For the Perth Thundersticks Women’s team heading into their final round clash against the Tassie Tigers the scenario to finish in the top four is simple – win and they are in.
Saturday’s match against the bottom of the table Tassie Tigers is a make-or-break contest for the girls from the west and captain Jemma Buckley knows it.
We caught up with the veteran prior to the Thundersticks flying out for Hobart.
Thanks for taking some time out to chat with us Jemma. How have you enjoyed playing in the newly rebranded and revitalised Sultana Bran Hockey One League and what have been your impressions?
JB: “I think the rebranded league is fantastic. The exposure that hockey has had with the new league has been really great in getting through to the public and having the games on Kayo just continues to build on that. And for fans in WA to see two games in a row when we play the back to back matches with the men is also really exciting.”
How have you found the travel for matches?
JB: “The travel has been good. It’s hard for us here in WA as we have longer and further to travel than the other teams. Last week we had a double header weekend where we travelled to Adelaide on Friday and then Brisbane on Sunday, so being able to knock that out in one go was good. The home and away matches are great for the team; we get to travel together, know each other better and I think that helps to make us a better team.”
This weekend’s game against the Tassie Tigers is huge for you and the team – basically you win and you’re in. How are you feeling heading into the match?
JB: “We know what is at stake for us this weekend, and we all really want to make finals, so we’re treating it as a final. We basically see this as our first elimination, and if we want to continue into the finals, we know we have to win and so that’s our mindset.”
If you do get into the finals, do you think you can go all the way?
JB: “I think that across the league, it has been interesting with the Hockeyroos squad coming in and out, and how that’s shaped the matches. The best thing for the Thundersticks is that it hasn’t affected us as much and I feel we’ve been able to build upon our matches week to week. It hasn’t influenced or changed the dynamics of the team or what we want to achieve, so we’ve got the same focus, the same line up and hopefully it comes together and works for us.”
What aspects do you think the team will need to focus on if you’re going to give it a real go of making the grand final?
JB: “We know that we need to make the most of our pump ups and attacking circle. There are so many opportunities to get in there and score, and we know that this week, we need to win short corners and make sure the opportunities to convert are really utilised to give us the best chance of winning.”
Has the team thought about the fact that if you win, and depending on other results, you could finish as high as second, with the flipside being you could miss out altogether?
JB: “Definitely, but we can only affect the result of our game, and we know that we can’t rely on other teams’ results to influence us. We’re just going to go out there and make sure we come away with the result we want. We want to finish as high as we can and hopefully that’s as high as second or third after all the matches.”
What has the vibe been like at training this week? Is there a lot of excitement or are you all trying to keep cool heads?
JB: “To be honest it has been a bit of both! We want to treat it like any other game but we’re a young squad so it’s kind of exciting and I think we’re all enjoying that feeling at training. The last couple of years we’ve finished fifth in the Australian Hockey League (AHL) and missed the finals, so for us to make finals in Hockey One and do better than in the AHL is a very exciting thing. We’re really just taking this game as it comes and building from there.”
What have you enjoyed most about playing in the league?
JB: “For me personally, I’ve been part of the AHL for a long time, over a decade now. With the Sultana Bran Hockey One League, hockey is finally getting the exposure it deserves and it’s great for the girls to get the exposure too. The general public is able to come and see the games, and the league as a whole is able to be more visible to the public.”