Hannah on brink of more hockey history

Published 5:00pm 22 June 2022

Hannah on brink of more hockey history
Words by Nick Crockford

Redcliffe's rising star Hannah Cullum-Sanders is about to make hockey history - again.

Last month, the 18-year-old forward became the first woman to represent Australia while playing for Redcliffe Hockey Club, when she was called up to face New Zealand.

She overtook Rene Gillingham, a peninsula resident selected for the Australian women's team to play England in 1939, only for games to be cancelled due to World War II.

Eighty-three years later, having impressed with the Hockeyroos across the Tasman last month, Cullum-Sanders has flown to Europe for the FIH Women’s World Cup.

She is the second youngest and one of five players with less than 10 games international experience, in a Hockeyroos squad of 18 for the tournament in Spain and Netherlands.

Hannah on brink of more hockey history
Hannah Cullum-Sanders shouting instructions during the Trans-Tasman series.

When the World Cup (July 1-17) starts Cullum-Sanders will also become the first player from Redcliffe to play for Australia since Matthew Swann with the Kookaburras in 2009.

“I can’t believe it,” she says, “it’s something I was hoping might happen five years from now.

|“I was really happy with how things went in New Zealand. The speed and physicality was a big step up, but I just tried to enjoy it.”|

Cullum-Sanders played in all four matches and was close to scoring her first Hockeyroos goal as Australia won the four-match series (two wins and two draws).

That was quickly followed by being named in the Hockeyroos squad for the Women’s World Cup, which Australia won in 1994 and 1998. In 2018, they were fourth.

Hannah on brink of more hockey history
Hannah Cullum-Sanders, third from right, with her Hockeyroos colleagues in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, she was not selected for next month's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but 2022 has still been a remarkable ride for Cullum-Sanders.

Just five months ago she was "making up the numbers" at a Hockeyroos trial in Brisbane.

However, Cullum-Sanders caught the selectors’ eye and was assessed further as part of a national development squad for those on the fringe of the Hockeyroos.

A week’s training in Perth with the national team confirmed her potential and an injury to former-Redcliffe junior Renee Taylor opened the door at last month’s Trans-Tasman Trophy.

Consistency has been one of the keys to the peninsula player's success – and hard work, often travelling three hours to and from training sessions.

Hannah on brink of more hockey history
Hannah Cullum-Sanders in her Redcliffe colours earlier this season.

Short-term Cullum-Sanders wants to work on her game - "there are plenty of areas to improve," she says. 

Longer-term, her aims are to play at major championships, such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

The Hockeyroos are in Pool D at the Women’s World Cup with Belgium, Japan, and South Africa. All pool matches will be played in Terrassa, Spain.

Saturday, July 2: Hockeyroos v Japan, start 5.30am July 3 AEST

Tuesday, July 5: Hockeyroos v Belgium, start 5.30am July 6 AEST

Wednesday, July 6: Hockeyroos v South Africa, start 5.30am July 7 AEST

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