Despite being part of the NSW Country opens side which won silver at the Australian Championships earlier this year, Courtney Hogan never expected to be rewarded for her efforts there.
Hogan has played at a number of national outdoor and indoor tournaments and has impressed each time she wore the sky blue of her state but the thought of representing her country still seemed miles away.
That was until recently when Hogan was named in the Australian Country under 21s side to contest the Oceania Challenge Cup in Fiji.
Nineteen-year-old Hogan departs on Wednesday to compete at the tournament, which runs from December 9-16.
“I’m looking forward to all of it and just playing in the green and gold,” she said.
It’s always been a dream to play in the green and gold so I can’t wait.Courtney Hogan
“It’s always been a dream to play in the green and gold so can’t wait.
“It was a very big shock (to be selected) and I didn’t think I would make it at all.”
Hogan, who spent her winter on the road traveling for play with the Lithgow Panthers in Premier League Hockey (PLH), expects the tournament in Fiji to be of a higher standard than anything she’s experienced in her young career.
Hogan and her Australian Country teammates will get the chance to play against a Japanese national side as well as two sides from the host country.
“It will be good to play against other international teams,” Hogan said.
“It’s definitely a big step up.”
The national selection caps off a massive 12 months for Hogan.
She was part of the NSW under 18s indoor hockey side which won gold at the Australian Championships in January while she helped Panthers make the grand final of this season’s PLH competition.
The Panthers went down 5-2 to Bathurst City in the decider but despite that final disappointment it was still a positive season for Hogan.
“My weekends were spent going to Lithgow. There was a lot of traveling,” she said, adding she appreciated her family’s support this year.
“But it was good playing away and getting a different perspective from another association and being part of a different structure.”
Hogan is one of four NSW-based players in the Australian Country side which will compete at the National Hockey Centre in Suva.
The competition features both men’s and women’s sides from the NZ President’s XI and Fiji President’s XI teams as well as Australian Country.