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Dalefield in dire straits?

Is the golden run for Dalefield in the Wellington Premier Women’s Championship coming to an end?

If the unavailability of most of the core of experienced and talented players is anything to go by, that could be the case.

Team manager Karen O’Connor confirmed that nine players, including some of the most experienced players and some talented youngsters from last season’s championship-winning squad, have indicated their unavailability.

They include several players who have been with the team for most, if not all, of their five championship victories in the eight seasons since their return to the top Wellington division in 2016.

Brigette Mossman, Emma Smith, Katherine Reisima, Rosie Rooderkirk, Reese Robertson, Maddy Taylor, Georgia Sacke, Pippa Raleigh, and Emma McLeod will not don the black and gold this season for a wide variety of reasons from pregnancy, having left the region for university, or pulling the pin at that level.

Michael O’Connor, Felicity Reidy, Katie MacAnulty, Amy Bunny, Charlize Baron, Katie-Anne Saywell, Grace Craig, goalkeeper Luana Felix, and former St Matthew’s player Finola O’Boyle have all indicated their availability, while the team can also call on some college players, depending on their secondary school competition commitments.

However, that leaves the team well short of putting together a big enough squad to endure the rigours of the Wellington premiership.

Karen O’Connor feels the possible demise of the team would be a real shame because they had lined up an experienced coach in Michael Sacke, a former assistant coach of the South African men’s team that qualified for the 2004 Olympics, to take control of the team. She asked that any players interested in playing contact her as soon as possible.

“All these other teams are having their trials now, and in fairness to the girls who are left, we need to know if we’ve got a team within the next couple of weeks,” Karen O’Connor said.

Should the club withdraw from the Wellington premiership, it could lead to an extended period in the hockey wilderness and deny the region’s promising youngsters the ideal platform to hone their skills in a tough, competitive environment.

It would also not be the first time the top women’s team has not played at the top level, having pulled out for several seasons, only to return in 2016 and win that year’s championship, as well as titles in 2017, 2020, 2021, and 2023.

“Maybe it is the end of our run, and it will be up to someone else to come back and get the team going again. It would be a real shame, and I’d feel really sad if this is it, but I understand as well.”

On a positive note, preseason fitness training is underway, with a core of five or six players turning up, and Karen O’Connor said that already, the players are beating their times from last year.

Anyone interested in playing for Dalefield can contact Karen O’Connor on 0272989009.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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