GC2018 Hockey is looking rosy for rising star
When the winning XXI Commonwealth Games bid was announced in 2011, hockey player Rosie Malone made a declaration of her own.
The then 12-year-old turned to her mum and said, ‘Mum, I’m going to be in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.’
Now 19, and recently selected in the Hockeyroos development squad, the goal Malone set seven years ago never leaves her mind.
It is tantalisingly close.
"I was there with my mum, and my whole family, and all the people on the Gold Coast and it was just so exciting, standing there and we’re all just waiting," Malone told GC2018.com.
"Everyone was in complete silence. Thousands of people were completely silent waiting to hear whether they’d announced it to be the Gold Coast.
"When they did it was crazy, everyone was going nuts and it was so exciting.
"It won’t be easy, but being in this Hockeyroos development squad I’m one step closer."
Malone started playing hockey for Burleigh at six years old. She started making representative teams at 10, culminating in selection in the under 21s Australian team, going on to win a bronze medal at the 2016 Junior World Cup in Chile.
It was an eye-opening experience for Malone and her first taste of the breadth of international hockey.
"When you’re going through your junior years you don’t really get a lot of international exposure so when we got to play teams like Argentina, the Dutch, the USA, teams that are so world-class and the senior teams are quite dominant," she said.
"It was definitely exciting, a good way to test your skills and compare yourself to other international players.
"We didn’t get the gold which is what every team wanted to get, but I think that was the best Australia had done in 20 years."
The Griffith University student fell in love with hockey as soon as she picked up a stick 13 years ago, but there’s another love in her life, soccer.
She still plays competitively in the women’s National Premier League Queensland.
"I’ve played soccer since I was 11, I played for Australia during my juniors so that was very exciting as well," she said.
"I’ve been lucky enough to have the same [soccer] coach since I was 11 so he’s been super flexible with my hockey and lets me swap in and out of playing with them. It’s really good.
"I do love playing soccer. I don’t know if the hockey people love me playing soccer, it’s kind of like I don’t really want to close that door yet because you never know what will happen."
Malone started to feel the pressure to prioritise one sport when she was 15, but even now, balancing university, soccer and hockey, she isn’t ready to commit to one over the other, not quite yet.
"I’ve always grown up doing so many different sports. I was a national cross country runner as well, and athletics and stuff. I wasn’t prepared to close the doors to all my other sports," she said.
"I think I’ve slowly gone down the hockey path and put a few more eggs in that basket. I definitely don’t want to stop playing soccer just yet."
While she’s felt torn between the two sports, Malone believes the sports complement each other and give her a unique advantage.
The skills and strategies she practises in one, helps to fine tune the other. It’s even led to the invention of new moves.
"In hockey, you run up and you jink the ball over sticks and stuff," she explained.
"All of a sudden in soccer I started doing that, a little jink over their foot and stuff. I was like what am I doing, this isn’t even a normal move, but it worked.
"I know soccer is with your feet and hockey is with a stick but it’s all the same structure, the same amount of people on the field, it’s very similar so I think it really helps with reading the game in both sports."
Looking back to that day at Broadwater Parklands seven years ago, Malone couldn’t have imagined how much her life, and home town would change.
The soccer fields she played on as a junior have become the state-of-the-art Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre. The pitches at Gold Coast Hockey Centre are international competition standard, ready to host the major tournaments and training camps Malone is participating in.
There is also the brand new $2.5 million FIH-accredited hockey pitch at Sports Super Centre, Runaway Bay, the same standard pitches used at the Rio Olympics.
It’s a transformation that’s happened alongside her own, and she couldn’t be happier.
"The Commonwealth Games is leaving behind an amazing legacy and amazing facilities," she said.
"It’s very exciting to have right on your doorstep and somewhere I’ve played since I was a six-year-old. It’s super exciting.
"The Games is something I’ll definitely be striving for.
"I’m not quite there yet but it would be amazing to be a part of. I would definitely put it down as a career highlight if I was to be in the team."