Cool under pressure

Courtney Poole , Keesha Atkins and Madison Poole are off to Japan. Picture: Louise White d403248
Courtney Poole , Keesha Atkins and Madison Poole are off to Japan. Picture: Louise White d403248

Sisters Courtney (14) and Madison Poole (13), of Mindarie, and Keesha Atkins (14), of Butler, are among the youngest players going on tour for the team’s first overseas trip.

Head coach Tamra Jones said the team would play three exhibition games against the Japanese under-18 team plus two games against other local teams.

‘We need to find out where Australia stands in terms of international performance,’ Jones said.

‘Japan is in the very top division (of the Asia/Pacific region) so they will be setting the bar for us to try and reach.

‘If we can prove we can compete ” not necessarily win ” that would be the goal, but we have to be realistic with the level they’re (Japan) at. If we can compete, then the girls can see what they can do.’

Courtney said that she felt privileged to be selected on the international team.

‘To compete overseas means the world to me as I am representing my country and I want to make Australia proud of me,’ the forward said.

‘I am also thrilled because this was one of the goals I had set myself in this sport and I have achieved that.’

Madison, who also plays forward, agreed that it was an honour to go on tour.

‘I am extremely excited at the opportunity to be representing my country in the sport that I love, especially at such a young age,’ she said.

‘It is everything I have been training for and I have only dreamt of a chance like this.’

Goalie Keesha said she was glad she had been picked in the side.

‘It means a lot to me ” it’s a great opportunity to compete at a high level and represent my country,’ she said.

As well as playing during the nine-day tour, the team will take part in over 10 hours of on-ice training, which Jones said was a demanding schedule when many could get on the ice only about three hours a week.

‘They have been following a program for the past year to build leg and upper body strength,’ Jones said.

The girls said this training in the lead-up to Japan was the biggest challenge.

‘It has been tough and exhausting, but I know I am getting fitter ” I know I can’t give up or stop as this is what I want,’ Courtney said.

Madison said it was about pushing through when training was tough.

‘It is just part of the mentality of an athlete,’ she said.