THERE was a bittersweet tinge to Queanbeyan’s 2-0 win over Wests Valleys in the grand final of Hockey ACT’s women’s grass grand final at Majura Park on Saturday.
As players celebrated the victory, Queanbeyan veteran Roslyn McNally was left wondering if she was in fact witnessing the end of an era.
An increasingly niche pursuit, the popularity of grass hockey has been on the wane for the better part of two decades as synthetic pitches have come to dominate the hockey landscape.
With that has come a decline in participation numbers in the grass game.
Last year’s season saw only four teams entered in Canberra’s women’s grass competition. This season, it was down to just three.
And McNally said with such a drop off in interest, it was inevitable that questions would be raised as to whether grass hockey would be dropped entirely from Hockey ACT’s plans in 2014.
“We hope it might not be but that’s the feeling we’ve been given,” she said. “We knew [last weekend] could have been the end of an era and we wanted to go out on a winning note.
“It’s a bit of a sad story but it looks like grass hockey is coming to an end. I’m not sure how much longer ACT Hockey will keep it going. I think in the end they’d prefer to just run turf competitions.”
McNally, along with fellow long-serving teammate Wendy Blanchard, has turned out for Queanbeyan in the grass competition nearly every year for the past two decades.
Only pregnancy has prevented the two from taking to the field since making their debuts for the side in 1993.
Back then, grass was the dominant hockey surface with the only two artificial pitches in Canberra located at Lyneham and Bruce.
Since then however, artificial turf has increasingly reigned ascendant, forever changing the face of the game.
“Hockey’s a completely different game on turf to grass, it requires a whole different skill set,” McNally said. “On turf you can just ran and dribble and pass and everything is very clean where on grass, it’s much more unpredictable.
“You’re reflexes and your hand-eye coordination really need to be quite sharp because of the unpredictable nature of where the ball is going to go. Grass is a lot easier on the body as you get older as well.”
While Canberra’s grass competition’s future remains uncertain, for the time being Queanbeyan can simply celebrate the club’s success after Saturday’s grand final victory.
Queanbeyan’s win over Wests Valleys was built on first half goals to Rui Hepi as the minor premiers defended a two-goal half-time lead to secure the win.
Queanbeyan also claimed the Women’s under-18s division two title with a 2-0 victory over Vikings at Lyneham on Saturday.