Youth no bar for Madi

MADI Ratcliffe wants to defy her status as the youngest member of Victoria’s under 21 hockey team and play a key role at the national championships.

At 16, the Warrnambool striker said she was surprised to make the 18-player squad for the Perth-based competition. 

Ratcliffe’s selection comes a month after she helped Victoria to a bronze medal at the under 18 national championships in Melbourne.

The Warrnambool College student, who will train twice a week in Melbourne in the lead-up to the July tournament, said she was the youngest in the under 21 team by 10 months.

She said her latest state call-up spurred her on to push for Australian selection in the future.

“It’s a bit of a surprise,” Ratcliffe said. “There were three trials and 50 trialling, so not as many as the under 18s, but there was definitely more depth in the players.

“I am pretty happy and obviously it’s a big thing and it’s obviously something I have always wanted to do (eventually).

“It wasn’t one of my original goals (for this year) but mum and dad said ‘do you want to trial?’ and I thought I had an all right tournament at the under 18s.”

Ratcliffe said the under 21 nationals presented her with an ideal opportunity to fast-track her development.

“We have two very good coaches — one (Katie Allen) played in the Olympics and the other guys are fantastic as well so I think I will learn heaps,” she said.

“There will be older girls by three or four years. It’ll be a lot stronger and there will be a lot more experience there.

“The girls in the team are really nice and I have played against them in premier league and I know them.”

Ratcliffe combines hockey with her other sporting passion of surfing.

“I think hockey is starting to take over competitively but I still enjoy going out surfing a bit,” she said. 

The under 21 women’s national championships run from July 1-12.

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au 

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