A VICTORIAN coach believes promising Warrnambool hockey player Madi Ratcliffe has the attributes and dedication to make her mark in the sport.
Ratcliffe, 16, played under Victorian Institute of Sport head coach Katie Allen at the Hockey Australia under 21 championships in Western Australia.
Victoria finished fifth at the two-week tournament which finished on Saturday.
Allen said Ratcliffe — one of the youngest players in the Victorian team — highlighted her potential at the high-quality competition.
But she said it was difficult to delve too deeply into the Warrnambool District Hockey Association striker’s long-term playing future.
“It is difficult to predict these things because so many things contribute to how a player progresses,” Allen said.
“I think Madi is doing well and the fact she is based in Warrnambool and is driving her own progress (is good) — doing extra training on her own and coming to Melbourne to do as many trainings as she can.
“Those sort of things I think also contribute to someone fulfilling their potential.
“She has that natural ability and thirst to learn and be creative in a game.”
Ratcliffe was part of the Victorian team that won bronze at the under 18 national championships earlier this year.
Allen said the Warrnambool College student deserved a chance to play at under 21 level after impressing at selection trials.
“Madi got selected because of her skill and her ability in front of goals,” she said.
“She has an instinct for goal and is prepared to take a risk around the circle and is quite creative.
“That suited the team and squad because strikers of that nature are hard to come by.
“Although she is young and pretty raw, even when she trialled against older players, those instincts came through.”
Allen said Ratcliffe, who plays premier league in Melbourne each week, seized her opportunities and would be better for the experience.
“She didn’t seemed to be fazed by playing at a higher level so that was a good sign,” she said. “The length of the tournament — it was a two-week tournament — meant in the end she was pretty tired but she was still contributing in every game.”
Allen said Victoria fell short of its aim to play finals at the national carnival.
It finished fifth after winning its play-off match against host state Western Australia, 3-2. New South Wales won gold, Queensland silver and ACT bronze. “It was pretty disappointing actually with the team we had and the preparation we had,” she said.
“We didn’t beat two teams who were around our mark to get into finals so we didn’t deserve to get in but I think we did a lot of things well and got better as the tournament went on.
“Some of the quality of the play was excellent.”