Hannah Cullum-Sanders admitted she “couldn’t believe” the whirlwind few months it took to rise from a development squad trial to the Australian Hockeyroos team.
The Redcliffe Hockey Club forward says she was “invited to fill in the numbers” at a National Development Squad (one below the Hockeyroos) trial in February.
It was there, head coach Katrina Powell spotted the 18-year-old’s talent and Cullum-Sanders was invited to Perth on an Athlete Visiting Agreement to train with the national team.
Described by Powell as “a little unknown and a little uncanny”, Cullum-Sanders’ impressed again and she was selected for the Hockeyroos’ four-match series against New Zealand in Auckland in May.
“It’s something I was hoping might happen five years from now. I was really happy with things in New Zealand.,” she said, after the Hockeyroos won two and drew two of the games.
“The speed and physicality (in New Zealand) was a big step up, but I just tried to enjoy it.”
The trip made Queensland junior Cullum-Sanders the first women to represent Australia while playing for Redcliffe Hockey Club.
Rene Gillingham, a peninsula resident, was selected for the Australian women's team to play England in 1939, but games were cancelled due to World War II.
Several other women, such as Pam Glossop, played for Australia but not while being playing for Redcliffe.
Cullum-Sanders also became the first Redcliffe Hockey Club player to represent Australia since Matthew Swann for the Kookaburras in 2009.
Born and raised in Maryborough, Cullum-Sanders played all four games across the Tasman, impressing coaches and earning a ticket to the FIH Women’s World Cup in Spain.
The July tournament saw Australia power in the quarter-finals – Cullum-Smith was player of the group match against South Africa – where they faced hosts Spain.
Former Redcliffe junior Renee Taylor scored twice to set-up a semi-final against Netherlands, who won 1-0 and beat Argentina in the final. The Hockeyroos beat Germany to take third place.
Cullum-Sanders was not selected for the Hockeyroos’ Commonwealth Games squad, which finished with silver medals after losing to England in the final.
However, in just six months, Cullum-Sanders, who turned 19 in July, won 10 Australian caps and has a playing record with the Hockeyroos of seven wins, two draws and one defeat.
She now has her sights on more major championships, such as the Olympic Games.
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