A letter from Fleur Horner reflecting upon her field hockey season played in Perth, Australia
I woke up to the news today that the Australian government has just announced that is it raising the age limit of the working holiday visa to 35. Now this is BIG news (particularly if, like me, you’re the wrong side of 30!) so it’s spurred me on to write about my time in Perth earlier this year and encourage everyone to consider doing it too, especially if you thought it was too late!
Until today, using Uru to go to Australia post 30 was somewhat difficult. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner, maybe I was a bit risk averse, maybe my career felt too inflexible, maybe I even doubted my ability. Whatever the reason, me and my hockey playing other half Dave hadn’t ever really, seriously considered that it could be possible and suddenly age 31 the real opportunity arose to play a season for Hale.
As they always seem to, the conversation was casually started after a few wines by an Aussie friend Tommy Kavanagh who had been living in London and playing with us at Hampstead and Westminster. He caught both of us at a mid-September low when the weather in the UK was getting miserable, and for Dave, the post 8-week school summer holiday come down was really hitting hard.
So we went for it. But, I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was a pain to organise. It’s one thing to joke yourself about getting old but it’s another for the Australian Government to really stick the knife in. It was official, neither of us could work as we were over 30, gutted. However, we negotiated with our jobs in the UK and managed to work out a combination of remote working and unpaid leave.
It was so worth it! The next 6 months was a whirlwind of hockey, chicken salt, coffee, red wine, fishing, Little Creatures and a few speeding fines.
I’m not going to give you all a blow by blow account of the hockey season but in summary, Dave’s team made it to finals and my team secured promotion to the MTL (the top league in Perth). We both played some Allstars invitational games, and we both learnt that Australian hockey teams love to attack…at all times!
It’s going to sound extremely cliché and I won’t begrudge you a little vom in the mouth, but the best part of the whole experience was the friends that we made along the way. 6 months is certainly not long but we have made friends that I am sure we keep forever.
If even a tiny bit of you is thinking about playing hockey abroad, do it (whether you’re 25 or 35!).
I’ll end with a few things I learned about Perth that they won’t tell you in the guide books.
- It does get cold in winter
- It does rain
- Tradies are everywhere
- ‘Heritage’ means anything built more than 20 years ago
- It’s impossible to complete a car journey without hearing Pink on the radio…or swearing, even at 9am!
- Sick means ill, it doesn’t mean vomiting
- It’s nigh on impossible to get coffee in the afternoon. Everything closes at 3pm.
- It’s nigh on impossible to drink/dance unless you go clubbing, everything closes by midnight.
- Macdonalds nuggets are recognised as a legitimate food group
- Everyone downloads films illegally
- Everywhere is a half hour drive (even if it’s clearly not)
- Not everywhere has wifi
- Fuel is really cheap
- Fruit and veg is really expensive
- Fishing is really fun
- Mid-strength beer is a thing
- Chicken salt is awesome
- The speed limit is stupid
Listen to Fleur and David briefly talk about where hockey has taken them at the Uru Sports (rebranded LEAP Worldwide) Launch Party!!
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Also follow us on Instagram and tune in this weekend for some live stories at the Cal Cup! It should be great fun.
Lastly, a huge thanks to this great couple for taking the time to talk to us about their club season in Australia. We’re extremely grateful for all the athletes and coaches like you who’ve gotten behind our mission here at Uru Sports and have shared insight on sports around the world.
NO BORDERS. JUST SPORTS.