20 years after the Hockeyroos inspired a nation with their gold medal triumph at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, a working class mum from western Sydney is doing her part to promote the sport of hockey to the next and current generation of players.
Dr Michelle Cull is more than your average working mum. While being an Associate Dean in the School of Business at Western Sydney University keeps her busy enough, she also has a passion for hockey that she insists gives her the energy and enthusiasm she needs to get through a busy week.
“I work pretty long hours but I’m much more productive knowing that I have a hockey game to play,” admits Dr Cull, who is a mother of three. “I get bored easily so hockey keeps me active and busy when I’m not at work.
“It takes a bit of organising but much easier as my kids are now getting older. I make sure I get the most out of every minute of my day.”
Remarkably, the Macarthur resident only took up the sport nine years ago after playing the role of a typical sporting parent prior to that.
“I started playing at around the age of 38 or 39, mainly because my kids started playing and I was spending so much time at the hockey fields so I thought why not give it a go?,” explains Dr Cull. “As I had never played before, my kids were pretty good in giving me some tips!”
Dr Cull likes the sport so much she now plays up to three games per week, while also juggling parenting and her busy career lecturing and researching in the fields of accounting and financial planning.
At the moment she is simply enjoying playing, but over the years she has also been heavily involved in the administrative and coaching side of things.
“I am now just a player but for three different teams, two open aged teams in my local Macarthur association competition - one as goalkeeper and one as a field player (striker/midfield) - and also mid week in the Sydney Women’s Hockey League (SWHL) in the Masters (over 35s) comp.
“Over the years I’ve been on the board of our local club and the association and have managed several U13 & U15 boys and girls representative teams for both field and indoor hockey.
“I have also coached and managed a range of club teams for Minkeys (U7s), U11s, U13s, U15s , U18s and ladies.”
Dr Cull admits taking up the sport has helped her socially and professionally.
“There are many things I love about playing but probably the thing I love most is the social side. I have made so many new friends and we always have a laugh.
“I also enjoy the physical challenge and the strategic part of the game. It’s also great to be outside enjoying the fresh air, especially after a long week in the office/on the computer.”
Dr Cull emphasised the important of having a balanced lifestyle and encouraged working adults to look after their health and well-being by getting involved in sport. She especially encouraged mums, despite their age, to take up a sport they enjoy.
“Go for it! It is so important to do something for yourself that you love and sport is good for you.
“It helps you to be physically active as well as socially active and utilises your thinking skills.
“In addition, it helps you to have a generally healthier lifestyle as you are more aware of your body and want to look after it so you can perform well. If you look after yourself, you are able to do a better job looking after others.”
While admitting a spot on the Hockeyroos squad for the Olympic Games is likely out of the question, the ambitious Dr Cull doesn’t rule out one day representing her country at some level.
“Regardless of my age, I want to keep improving my game. I feel I have to make up for lost time and would like to one day play for NSW.
“I have only been a shadow player previously but got to play for Tasmania which was an amazing opportunity and experience.
“While possibly a bit of a stretch, ultimately I would love to represent Australia...as part of the Masters World Cup.
“However above all this I hope to continue to encourage other women to play and hope that I can keep playing for many years and into retirement with all the great friends I have made.“
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