Sharkey and Sharman selected in talented Jillaroos outfit

SASI duo Katie Sharkey and Lucy Sharman have achieved the hockey pinnacle for their age group, being selected in the 18-player Jillaroos team selected to represent Australia at the upcoming Junior Women’s World Cup in Chile commencing on 29 November.

The road to selection has been vigorous for both athletes, with Katie and Lucy competing for Australia in the Japan Series in February.

Following that, both represented South Australia at the national Under-21s competition while competing for the Adelaide Fire in Hockey One, later earning selection in a national squad of 35 eligible players that would be cut to 18.

SASI Hockey Head Coach Hugh Purvis praised Katie and Lucy’s dedication to their craft, expressing great pride over the achievement to represent Australia at the top level.

“Yeah, [it’s] fairly emotional… you see all the work that the athletes do, and how responsive they are to feedback and the drive to get better,” Purvis said.

“So, you’re certainly on the journey with them and you live the highs and lows of non-selection, injuries, or whatever they need to get over the hurdles they need to overcome.

“It's very exciting, and certainly why we coach is to see these athletes perform at their best… it's really exciting and quite emotional when they do get there.”

Over the next six weeks until competition begins, Katie and Lucy will be utilising game competition as their primary training method through the completion of the Hockey One season.

“All their hard work's really been done… they've been preparing since January for hopeful selection.

“Both of them have three more matches and full training weeks… other than that, SASI will be complementing with some individual skills sessions, making sure we're getting enough conditioning load into them to ensure they're prepared to play in Chile.”

Selection in the Jillaroos is a proven pathway to representing Australia at the senior level, with many SASI athletes – including Jane Claxton, Karri McMahon, and Miki Spano – all going on to receive Hockeyroos caps in recent years.

Hugh praised the Jillaroos’ potential for gold at the world cup, citing the seven Hockeyroos in the team as invaluable resources for leadership.

“The group has really high potential… there's definitely enough capability for that team to win, and they should have high medal aspirations when they go away,” Purvis said.

This belief is shared by Jillaroos coach Stacia Strain, who didn’t shy away from the lofty external expectations despite Australia having never won the tournament.

“Since I took on the role, the emphasis has been on cultivating an environment where we create confident, balanced and independent women who then lead and empower those around to do and be the same,” Strain said.

“This 18-player team is an incredibly talented group who have been selected not just based on their skills but also for their outstanding work ethic, grit, and a commitment to our culture – what we believe are the true hallmarks of Australian hockey.

“The Junior World Cup is a significant event in the development of young athletes. The coaching staff and I are honoured to be entrusted with the responsibility of preparing them for this challenge.

“Our coaching philosophy has always been to push boundaries and strive for excellence, and this selection reinforces our commitment to that vision.”

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Image: Adelaide Fire