She’s lived in Perth for four years and spends a lot of time flying across the world with the Australian women’s hockey team, but Rachael Lynch still calls Warrandyte home.
The Hockeyroos goalkeeper grew up in Warrandyte and returns home to visit her parents when she’s not training, travelling overseas for international tournaments or working as a nurse at the Royal Perth Hospital.
But the 27-year-old will be once again spending a lot of time with her teammates this year, with the Hockeyroos planning to compete almost every month.
If last year’s performance is anything to go by, the team is on track to climb its way back to the world’s number one spot.
“In December we played against the top eight countries in the world in Argentina. We were undefeated until the final and then got absolutely smashed by the Dutch, which was pretty disappointing, but we were ranked fifth going into the tournament so to come second was really good,” Rachael said.
“We were wrapped because it moved our world ranking up to fourth. Our plan at the moment is to get up to number one again, and the team hasn’t been number one since Sydney 2000.”
As a young girl growing up in Warrandyte, Rachael always loved playing basketball.
But when Rachael picked up a hockey stick for the very first time, a state selector saw her play and was blown away by her natural talent.
Rachael quickly joined a hockey club and before long she was playing in junior state tournaments. She was then selected to attend the Victorian Institute of Sport and played for the senior Victorian team. Once she discovered goalkeeping, she never looked back.
“I like being goalkeeper because it’s a bit unique. You have to be quick, agile and have good reflexes. It’s a high pressure position and although there have been times where I’ve been part of the reason why we’ve lost but then there are also times when I’ve helped us win.”
The star goalie says some of the greatest highlights of her sporting career since that day include the 2005 Junior World Cup, the 2010 World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
“We won gold at the Commonwealth Games and we went into penalties, which is a pretty exciting way to win, right down to the very end. Winning was one of the best moments of my life and I was feeling the pressure and it was so hot – it was something like 40 degrees over there,” she said.
“There weren’t heaps of people that came over to watch us but after the game we went back to our rooms and everybody’s Facebook pages were absolutely flooded with messages. It was amazing, when you play you sometimes don’t realise how many people watch Olympics and Commonwealth Games.”
Rachael says this year’s highlights will include playing at the World Cup in Holland and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
She’s particularly looking forward to playing in front of large crowds at the World Cup in Holland, where playing hockey is “like a religion”.
Rachael hopes it will generate some more publicity for women’s hockey and attract more sponsorship for the Australian women’s side.
“It’s slow but it is getting better and there are lots of people out there pushing for women’s sport,” Rachael said.
“It’s just about getting it out there and we just have so much competition with the footy and cricket, but we’ll get there.”
Published in the Warrandyte Diary, February 2014