When Alice and Ellen Fletcher started playing rink hockey, they discovered a close-knit and passionate community of skaters and knew they wanted to be part of it.
The sisters compete out of Mordialloc Club in Melbourne and attended the 2022 World Skate Games in Argentina, helping Australia achieve a historic bronze medal.
Older sibling Ellen described the World Skate Games experience as ‘unimaginable’.
“To be able to be part of the incredible team of women, Jamie [our coach] put together and to see how far we had come meant so much to me,” Ellen said.
“Especially after all the CoOVID uncertainty, we weren’t even sure if the Games would go ahead. Being able to travel through Argentina, play with local clubs and see the amount of talent and strength of the women’s teams really ignited everyone’s passion and fire for the Games and our future as a team in general,” she said.
As well as sharing the experience with her older sister, 15-year-old Alice said the opportunity to play against Argentinian clubs and make friends overseas were among the many highlights of her time abroad.
The opportunity to watch the men’s and women’s world finals was also special.
“Seeing how many people were watching and how energetic the crowd was, was just unreal,” Alice said.
The sisters have come a long way since their first time on a hockey rink, which was sparked by a friend who insisted they give it a go.
“It’s such a fast-paced sport that involves so much thinking as well as skill, even just watching a game you become enthralled,” Ellen said.
It didn’t take long for the sisters to discover it’s the people involved in rink hockey who make the sport great.
“Because rink hockey is a smaller sport, the community is amazing, everyone knows each other and everyone wants you to do well and loves it when new people start playing,” Alice said.
Ellen was inspired by the coaches and senior players who told stories of the ‘glory days’ and times spent exploring Australia and the world.
When she took a break from the sport, it was her teammates who encouraged her to return.
“I had a hard time leading up to COVID. I broke my collarbone three times within nine months, at the same time I started to feel there was a loss of momentum in the sport. Specifically, within the women’s side. Australia hadn’t sent a women’s team to a Worlds or an Asian Games in a number of years. I was also starting my year 12 studies.
“A year later I had my coach come out to talk to me as I was picking Alice up and told me they were planning on sending a team to Worlds, which they hadn’t done for the women’s team in almost a decade. I decided that’s what I wanted, so I came back and made it my priority,” she said.
With the COVID pandemic now in the rear-view mirror, the sisters are getting on with their sport, with a focus on representing Australia into the future. Alice also has coaching in her sights.
“Maybe one day I’ll get to coach an Australian team and I think it would be awesome to take a team overseas,” she said.
The sisters are also encouraging others to follow them.
“If someone is interested in rink hockey and doesn't know where to start, I would tell them to find their local roller skating rink or local rink hockey club and just ask. We love getting new players no matter how old or what skill level. The community is super nice so the best thing to do is just reach out to a club or rink,” Alice said.
Ellen said there is a place for everyone at rink hockey, whether that is on the rink, or on the sideline.
“Most of the clubs are on Facebook, you can ask at a skating rink or if you know a player, they’ll be happy to help you out. And for all the parents who want to get involved with their kids, you can also put on skates, or we are always looking for more referees,” she said.