With less than three weeks until the start of the Hockey One season, the Perth Thundersticks have found the perfect balance of seasoned stars and fresh faces, proving that there is certainly no shortage of talent among this year’s men’s and women’s teams.
A staggering seven players from both teams are currently aged 21-years-old or younger.
Three of these seven players will make their Perth Thundersticks debut against the Canberra Chill on Saturday 7 October and showcase the elite and emerging talent WA has to offer.
Elyssa Melville, 19, makes her first Perth Thundersticks team in 2023. The emerging star has represented Western Australian every year since 2017 in the U13, U15 and U18 National Championships and is 2023’s Rechelle Hawkes Youth Player of the Year.
Belle Ramshaw, 20, also played in each of WA’s state representative teams, as well as recently representing Australian in Jillaroos Under21 team,
Thundersticks debutant Saysha Pillay, 19, has also played in every representative team WA has to offer from Under-12s to Under-21s, and will also look to showcase her talents at the elite level.
Not only will there be first-year emerging stars this season, returning talent in the 21 and under age bracket will look to build on stellar performances last season.
Returning Thundersticks star Cambell Geddes, 21, first picked up a stick at 11-years of age. A year later, after trialling with his friends on a whim, he was selected in his first School Boys representative hockey team.
“It was just a bit of good fortune really but that was what sparked my love of the game,” he said.
Since then, Geddes has played in and won back-to-back gold medals in WA’s Under21s side and was selected to play in the Australian Junior Men’s (Burras) team in 2022 and 2023. He was also this year’s recipient of the Paul Gaudoin Youth Player of the Year, which he humbly called, “a nice bit of recognition for a year of hard work.”
Ahead of the Hockey One season, Geddes said he’s excited to have the opportunity to show off the skills he and fellow teammates aged 21 and under have and what they bring to the Perth Thundersticks.
“Last year was my first year, I was really young and felt like I’d been thrown in the deep end,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my confidence and learning from such great players, including the Kookaburra boys.”
Geddes believes the men established a close-knit team last season and are hoping to build upon the teamwork, and the results they were able to achieve.
He also thinks their new coach, Craig Wilson, will be able to utilise the team’s skill and bond to lead the team towards chasing gold.
“Hockey One is another level of speed, intensity and tactical game play that I’m going to give 100% to,” Geddes said.
“I’m excited to get to be a Thunderstick again, and I’m excited about my future in this sport.”
Geddes will play alongside another emerging star of the game in 21-year-old Brodee Foster.
The Burras representative who made his Perth Thundersticks debut last year will look to light up the field around goal and back up his performances from a 30-goal season in the Premier League for Reds Hockey Club.
Another second-time Thundersticks player is 21-year-old, and 2023 Premier League Grand Final premiership player, Georgina Dowd, who is equally as excited for the season to begin.
“It is always a great experience playing a high level of hockey, as well as having the opportunity to play alongside the people I usually play against throughout the regular season,” Dowd said.
Understanding that each season offers players new and different experiences, Dowd is looking forward to this Hockey One season’s intensity and level of competition, which she hopes will make for some exciting clashes.
“Last year, playing for the Thundersticks was a huge step up for me in terms of being exposed to a higher level of game play and skill, so a huge focus for me during this Premier League season was building my strength and fitness,” Dowd said.
“I’m definitely coming into this year’s Hockey One faster and stronger than I was this time last year, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how that helps me improve my game.”
Last season, when the Perth Thundersticks clashed with Canberra Chill, Dowd scored an incredible goal in the opening minute of the game.
She is hoping to replicate that moment when the two teams meet again at Perth Hockey Stadium at Curtin University on Saturday 7 October.
“That was a huge game for us last year and the plan was always to go hard at them early,” Dowd said.
“It was a great feeling to be able to get on the end of it and score, and of course that would be amazing if we could set the tone like that again by scoring early.”
Dowd hopes to enter the coming season with a deeper understanding of the game, its technical structures and strategies, and her own personal role within the Thundersticks team.
“I can’t wait to play at such a high intensity again against some really competitive teams,” Dowd said.
“I think it brings out some of my best hockey, so I’m looking forward to hopefully getting an opportunity to step up a level again.”
Britney Desilva will also return for her second season alongside Dowd, with the emerging star’s talent showcased through a selection in the Jillaroos this year.
Don’t miss a moment of the young and star-studded talent on display this Hockey One season. Tickets and memberships to all three Perth Thundersticks home fixtures are on sale now.