The Pilbara’s youngest up and coming hockey stars had the opportunity to compete in a series of interschool hockey carnivals across the region, hosted by Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) and Hockey Australia.
Around 120 students from 11 schools in Port Hedland, Karratha, Roebourne and Wickham joined Olympians and current members of the Hockeyroos and the Kookaburras at the highly anticipated interschool carnivals following the completion of the ten-week Pilbara Community Hockey Program (PCHP).
The program, delivered throughout the second term of the school year, provides pathways for the next generation of Pilbara school children to engage in hockey, and more broadly to increase their engagement and attendance at school.
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said the Company’s ongoing partnership with Hockey Australia was helping to build the capacity of communities in the Pilbara to deliver sport and other recreation activities independently.
“At Fortescue, we are committed to building thriving local communities and are proud to support an initiative that is working to improve social and educational outcomes for children living in remote regions,” Ms Gaines said.
Hockey Australia Commercial Partnership Manager Shane Tonkin said the successful initiative has grown considerably over the past eight years from only three visits to the Pilbara in the first year to over 50 in 2019.
“This growth has enabled us to establish and maintain our relationships with the schools and makes a significant impact to the students’ wellbeing and school attendance. We also encourage our high performance athletes to be role models and hockey coaches which is a very rewarding and enriching experience for them,” Mr Tonkin said.
Hockeyroos star Stephanie Kershaw said the program was showing participants that they are able to succeed at sport, no matter where they lived.
“That’s part of the beauty of sport, you don’t have to be from a big city to excel. As an athlete from regional Australia, it is really important to me to give back to the community in this way and hopefully inspire other kids living in regional Australia to play and excel in their given sport,” Ms Kershaw said.
“I think it’s really important for these kids to see that being from a small town shouldn’t stop them from aspiring to play for Australia one day.”