Enthusiasm has never been a problem for Confederates sides competing in the women’s Premier League Hockey competitions.
The exuberance of youth often ensured that.
But a lack of experience and fitness has anchored the red and blues to the bottom of the PLH ladder since the club made a comeback into the central west’s top competition in 2012.
That’s all about to change in 2017.
Feds have landed 2016 NSW under 21s gun Rachel Divall ahead of this season, while Ex-Services defender Ellen Van Hoek has made the transition across town for the winter.
The return of Rach Pengilly will also shore up Fiona Reith’s defence, the trio of additions bringing a huge amount of experience to a squad that’s started training in January.
That experience and fitness that once lacked in Feds teams is now there, in abundance.
“We’ve really had a void in that middle age group for the last couple of years,” Reith said.
“We’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few girls this season. Ellen has come across and Rachel Divall has moved back to Orange. She’s a Feds junior so it’s great to have her there this year.”
The boost in squad stocks has led Reith’s Confederates girls to set some goals this season, something the side hasn’t done in her time in charge.
Rather than looking to focus on development, 2017 will be a season the club uses to push for a place in the finals.
And with the likes of Divall, Pengilly and Van Hoek joining state guns Pip Mannix, Heidi Townsend and Eva Reith-Snare, all 15 years of age, at Feds, the future looks promising.
“Last year we just wanted to make some small changes and see where that landed the team … see where some maturity got them,” Reith said.
“This year, we’re determined to make the top five. So there’s something there for the girls to aim at.”
On top of what has been a grueling pre-season training wise, the club has taken part in four trial games.
Feds played Bathurst St Pat’s twice, earning a win and a loss, while also bringing up wins in other pre-season games against Bathurst City and Kinross.
Read into those results what you like, Reith says, but she’s confident a side that finished eighth our of nine sides in 2016, with just two wins, will do more than make up the numbers this winter.
“The girls are very keen to play some hockey,” she said after the lengthy pre-season.
“We thought the season was going to start in March, like it has in the past, so we came back to training pretty early.
“We’re missing a couple of girls for our first game against Souths but we’re looking forward to it.”