Jolly Hockey Sticks

“Sport is so good for physical and mental wellbeing, and it’s really important to keep participating,” Maree Todd tells me, with an enthusiastic glint in her eye. Maree’s grass roots hockey began at school and she went on to play for the Teachers Club in Auckland from 1973-76, also playing reps for Auckland under 18s and 21s in this time. Upon returning from her O.E. she came back to play for Warkworth Club in the local competition and represented Rodney for a few games. 

Her passion for the sport is clear and it’s easy to see how Maree became entrenched in the hockey lifestyle. “We formed the Mahurangi Club and entered the North Harbour Competition about 28 years ago. I played at Premier level and then dropped down the grades as I got older. I coached for the club and at various times was the president, vice president, secretary and did publicity for the club. Eventually I was made a life member,” she says. “I am the only original member of the Mahurangi Club still playing as I still play Masters for Mahurangi.”  

Maree became part of the Warkworth Hockey Turf Charitable Trust and is out to recruit more hockey players for the beautiful new turf in Warkworth, women in particular. “The new ground is a wonderful facility, it’s great for the community and hockey will grow here because of it,” says Maree. 

Warkworth currently offers open competition for women aged 13 and up, and has four women’s teams – but Maree is out to increase that number. “We really want to get women back into the sport. The teams are all mixed for age and ability, and we play round-robin against each other. It’s a celebration of hockey, but we still play for a cup and we all want it!” she laughs.

Hockey can be expensive so keeping it affordable is very important to the Warkworth Club. “We keep the cost as low as possible and make sure we have fun,’” says Maree. “It’s very social and anyone can join in – beginners, those who have played before – it doesn’t matter who you are, just come along and enjoy yourself.” Making it time-friendly is also important to recruiting and keeping members, says Maree. “Young mums who are busy with kids can fit this into their schedule. Have a run around, chat to your friends and still get home without it taking too long.” 

Maree really is passionate about hockey and was involved with the Warkworth Hockey Turf Charitable Trust from the beginning. “I’m still on that committee. Luckily, though, some gorgeous, young late-twenties, early-thirties have taken over so I can have a rest. I coached a lot of them when they were younger so it’s great when they step up and take on these responsibilities. I’m very encouraged.”

Maree also practises what she preaches. She has played Masters hockey for over 20 years, playing through the 45s, 50s, 55s and 60s grades, and has been in multiple New Zealand teams, including as captain. “At Masters, we’re all very competitive and hate it when we lose, but it’s all good fun afterwards. Masters gives us a place to go when we still want serious competition. It keeps people like me in the sport.”

Maree still trains hard to make the New Zealand Masters’ teams, but travelling to the tournament is a strong part of the appeal for her. “I loooooove travel. Broadens the mind and takes you out of your comfort zone. It keeps you alive and makes you realise how lucky we are in New Zealand. You can’t live without travel, in my opinion.”

Attending a World Cup tournament in Barcelona satisfied Maree’s passion for hockey and travel. “That was massive. It was very hot – 40° plus on the turf. We played six games and won a silver medal. We were the only New Zealand team to win a medal. We were world champions two years before that when we beat England in the final in Canberra. It’s great fun to play in those tournaments because you meet people from all over the world.”

Next year is another Masters World Cup, in South Africa this time. “I’m hoping to make it into the team again, as long as the body holds up. It’s about managing the injuries to keep going.”

However, there will still be time for some good fun, low stress, everyone-join-in hockey at the Warkworth turf, and Maree would dearly love to see you there. The best way to get involved is to email the club, check out their Facebook page, or just turn up on Monday nights for the ladies’ league or Friday nights for the men’s. The winter competition runs until August, then there’s a short break and, in summer, an eight-a-side competition begins.

ProfileJunction Mag