UniSA student Sophie Collings had an experience of a lifetime late in 2018 when she travelled to Fiji to represent the Under-21 Australian Country Women’s Hockey Team.
In December, Collings travelled to Suva, Fiji to compete against the Fiji President’s XI (National team) and the Fiji Invitational XI (development team).
They played three games against each team, with a few rest days for training and a chance to experience the Fijian culture.
Australia was fairly successful in the tournament, winning four out of the six games, with some big wins against the Invitational team and some tight losses against the President XI, who ended up winning the Tai Trophy for most wins.
Physiotherapy student Collings said she absolutely loved her experience in Fiji.
“I met so many amazing people, both in my team and from Fiji,” Collings said.
“There was some great competition and it was with a great group of people. I would have no hesitation in returning if I was given the chance.”
The biggest challenge for the Australian team was dealing with the heat and humidity, as they couldn’t prepare for that in Adelaide whilst playing in winter.
However, the heat didn’t stop the team from making special memories in Fiji.
“I will never forget standing in the middle of the pitch, before our first game, singing the national anthem and our team huddles on the pitch, chanting ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,’ ‘Oi, Oi, Oi’,” Collings said.
“I loved experiencing Fijian culture at the Opening Ceremony and event dinner.
“On one of our rest days, we took a bus trip to a waterfall where we swam with some local children which was pretty special.”
Collings received an Amateur Athlete Grant from UniSA Sport to help make her trip to Fiji possible.