BALLARAT’S Kate Ryan will have the honour of captaining the Australian Country women’s under-21 hockey team overseas later this year.
Ryan will lead the national team for the first time in the Oceania Pacific Cup in Fiji from December 6 to 13.
She was vice-captain in another tournament in Fiji at the same time last year.
Ryan, who is in her third year in the national team, said the captaincy appointment fulfilled an ambition.
“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “It was something I was aspiring to after being vice-captain.”
The women’s and men’s country squads will be Australia’s only representatives in the tournament, which is run by the International Hockey Federation every two years.
New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and host nation Fiji are among other competing nations.
Australian Country is the defending Oceania Pacific Cup women’s title-holder, having won it in 2012.
Ryan also played in that winning combination.
She was selected in this year’s team after being part of Victoria’s bronze medal campaign in the Australian country championships in Western Australia.
In her final year of exercise sport studies at Federation University Australia in Ballarat, the 20-year-old Ryan plays with Geelong in women’s state league division one.
She is in her second year with Geelong and hoping to play in the finals as part of her build-up to the Fiji trip, which will be her last time in under-21 ranks.
She turns 21 at the end of the tournament.
“My next ambition will be to make the open country team.”
As well as her hockey training, Ryan is preparing for another elite track and field season.
She specialises in 400-metre hurdles, competing on the national circuit.
The Eureka Athletic Club member, who was hampered by injury last track and field season, said hockey and athletics training complemented each other.