Lily Brazel picked up a bronze medal at the weekend, but for Footscray Hockey Club she’s as good as gold.
Brazel made her Hockeyroos debut last week in the International Festival of Hockey in Bendigo and Melbourne, becoming just the second Footscray player, and first female, to play senior international hockey for Australia.
She was part of the side that demolished the US 5-0 in the bronze medal game on Sunday, but just getting on to the pitch in the Australian uniform was enough for Brazel.
“That first game was a lot of fun – very exciting to run out there with the team,” Brazel said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to debut. It was awesome to have lots of friends and family there … lots of people from Footscray came along, so it was really special.
“That first game, singing the national anthem, I was crying and had all these emotions, but after that each game just felt like I was getting ready for a club game and I felt settled in the team.”
She said being the first female from Footscray to play for Australia was a great feeling, especially after moving from Sydney a few years ago and being welcomed by the club.
“It’s a massive honour,” she said. “It’s been overwhelming the support I’ve received from the club – I love the club and they’re so happy for me. It’s a very family-oriented club, which has really helped with me being away from family in Sydney.”
While Brazel plays more of a midfield role for Footscray, the Hockeyroos have slotted her into the defender rotations. She acquitted herself well in games against US (2-0 win) , world No.1 Netherlands (0-2 loss), US (3-2 win), Japan (2-3 loss) and Sunday’s medal game.
She said a recent training camp in Perth had her well prepared for the challenge, especially for her second international game – against the best in the world from Holland.
“To be honest, I felt like I was really prepared so it wasn’t as much of a shock as I thought it may have been,” she said.
“I think heading over to Perth the week before to train set me up really well for the tournament, so I was ready.
“I thought we played well in all games, and I was happy with how I went against Holland. We performed quite well against them – the scoreline doesn’t reflect that, maybe, but we were a bit unlucky.”
With her first taste of international hockey under her belt, Brazel is turning her focus to a series against Japan in Adelaide this week, before months of training begins ahead of a potential home Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year.
“The plan is to keep performing over the next few series and then see what happens for next year,” she said. “The Australian squad for 2018 is announced on December 1, so I think if I keep going … show some form and keep improving, I’m a good chance for the Games.”