WHEN it comes to maintaining a high standard of representative hockey, South Coast masters players Jenny Grey, Sue Carney and Kerrie Nealon are a shining example for players many years their junior.
The trio have returned from the national masters titles in Darwin with medals: Carney and Nealon taking gold and Grey silver.
For Carney, who is having her first year out of official duties - she served as Jamberoo president for 19 years and filled the same role with the South Coast Hockey Association for four - it was a triumphant return to representative ranks after overcoming a series of injuries.
"It was great to be back in the team, with our over-55s turning in a great tournament, winning all eight games in a busy 10 days, which included two days of training then eight games in eight days to win our competition, which was first past the post," Carney said.
"Fitness played a role - in fact I think we were fitter at the start then we were at the finish," she said with a laugh.
Grey's over-60s suffered the disappointment of going down in a double penalty shootout in the final after being unbeaten in pool games.
"The way I look at it was, we weren't beaten on the pitch and to go to a double shootout is very disappointing, but overall in the 20-odd years I have been playing we have won probably three-quarters of the titles, so I can't complain," she said.
In fact it was a superb effort by all NSW Women's Masters teams, with all six making the final or finishing on top of their pool and four winning, including Kerrie Nealon's over-50s, and the over-60s missing out narrowly.
But success isn't anything new for Grey and Nealon, as the nationals came on the back of national success at the most recent Masters World Cup at Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
This was the first world cup the Australian Masters had taken part in, with both Grey and Nealon returning triumphant.
But things are about to change on the local representative hockey scene, with South Coast joining with Illawarra and Shoalhaven to form teams in all grades, based on registration numbers, meaning much tougher competition for spots.
"We have been working on this for around five years and while it will make it harder for country players as they will be much more spread out for the purposes of training, city areas will remain basically unscathed, but overall the change will be exciting and lead to some good hockey," Carney said.
The trio also said their participation in a veterans' competition in Sydney on Wednesday nights helped them keep their competitive edge.