CHRIS Thompson feels fortunate every time he steps onto a hockey pitch.
At 59 years of age, he says he is glad his body can still handle the rigours of the sport.
“Every time I go out there I say ‘I’m so lucky I’m able to do this’,” he said.
“For that reason alone I believe, why waste it? If you’re capable of doing it, do it.”
The Warrnambool resident took up hockey in his mid 20s and is still playing the sport more than three decades later.
He had played football, cricket and tennis, but discovered hockey “struck a chord” as a team sport which suited his physique.
“I took up the game after watching my wife play it for several years,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate that physically I’ve been able to continue on. I didn’t play club hockey this year. I’m nearly 60 and I thought there are a lot of young kids coming through. It’s better to let them run around.
“But I still train every week and still keep fit.
“I do umpire during the winter. You need to keep your fitness.”
Thompson is one of a host of Warrnambool District Hockey Association players who will contest the Australian Veterans’ Championships, starting this weekend.
He will play in the Victorian over 55s division two side at the men’s titles in Hobart.
Joining him are over 40s squad members Tony Frost (division one), Stuart Purcell and Tomas Tait (division two).
WDHA best-and-fairest winner Dave Murry and Paul Wastall are part of the over 35s division one side.
Therese Burke will contest the women’s over 35 division in Melbourne.
Thompson has represented Victoria in the past but said it was an honour to win selection.
He said the social side of the veterans’ championships made the interstate trip more enjoyable.
“It’s a fair dinkum competition but at the end of the games you meet up with the opposition team and you share a few beers and a few yarns,” he said.
“There is a fair bit of camaraderie from all the players from the various states. It’s a great atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, Warrnambool teenager Madi Ratcliffe will also have state duties next week.
Ratcliffe is part of the Victorian under 15 squad which will contest national championships in Canberra.