The importance of sport is always overstated and steeped in fraternity. But, the family formation taking over one hockey club tells Jacob McArthur sport means a lot for mums and daughters sticking together.
The Sunday in May dedicated to mums usually spells sleep-ins, not shin-pads and sticks and sporting glory.
For the Tamworth Olympians, the city’s oldest women’s hockey club, Mother’s Day holds special significance with eight mum-and-daughter combos registered with the club in 2018.
Many of whom are playing in the same grade, on any given Sunday.
It’s fitting for the club which has a familial foundation.
The club was established in 1956, Melbourne’s Olympic year, by sisters.
“It was definitely all about family,” president Rebecca Davidson said.
Ms Davidson has played with the club for 10 years where siblings playing side-by-side was de riguer over the time, but 2018 in particular has seen a lot more maternal connections come to the fore.
This year, the club is home Trudy and Alex White; Jenni and Steph Simmons; Kate and Chloe Scicluna, Felicity and Steph Witts; Brooke and Annabel Dalzell; Aleasha and Sharlee Brown and Katrina and Abby Wakely.
It was down to two things in her mind: more forgiving fields and the chance to play alongside a daughter whichcould not be forgone for the mums.
“We’ve had these fields for quite a while and they’re really good on your knees, so you’re not as injury-prone, I don’t think,” she said.
There was a sense of a protective instinct kicking-in among the mothers with Tamworth girls having to graduate from under-11s hockey to the women’s grade.
Ms Davidson has been playing alongside her 15-year-old daughter Flo for two years now.
Flo’s the girl the goals for second grade; a short straw drawn as one of the younger players.
Ms Davidson said she would summon a little bit extra while Flo’s in the goals to make sure the weight of a loss didn’t fall on her daughter’s shoulders.
“You can always depend on you teammates, but I think … I try a little bit harder when she’s in goals because I don’t want it to fall on her,” she said.
“We have played on field together and you’re just a little bit more in-sync and you know where each other are.
“You just seem to have that extra bit of connection with them.”
The mother-daughter connection was a winning one in 2017, Ms Davidson said.
“Flo was our goalie in second grade and we made it to the semis for the first time in a fair few years,” she said.
The president said there would be no better way to spend Mother’s Day “than playing hockey with your daughter like I will be doing”.
Trudy White has been playing alongside her daughter Alex for a number of years.
In a grand final which went to “extra-extra time” a few year’s back, Trudy shot a pass across the goals for Alex to pot the winning shot.
While it might make for some unforgettable highlights, Ms White said the privilege of playing with a daughter means you’re privy to some pointed personalised tips.
“Mum, put you hand further down the stick,” she’s told.
“Mum, bend down further.
“Mum, do you realise you do this when you play.”
The Olympians will play eight games across its three grades this weekend, including four on Mother’s Day.
A working relationship
Many of Tamworth’s mums, the sporting and leisure-loving kinds alike, might be treated to a floral form of thanks on Sunday.
Jan and Eliza Fagan have run a florist shop on Brisbane Street for about 12 months, and the mother-daughter duo agree the trade leading up to Sunday has been busier than Valentine’s Day.
While the sight of a Designer Bunches bouquet will greet many mums this weekend, Eliza won’t be thanking her mother, and business-partner, with flowers.
“Just a massage or facial or something like that” is what florists gift each other.
It wasn’t really a goal for the Fagans to end-up owning a flower shop together, but Jan said it was a bit of a family tradition.
“I was a teacher to begin with then I just dabbled in this and it’s far more fun,” Jan said.
“I guess it is a family tradition because my mother is fairly handy with flowers.
“Everyday is fun, we have a laugh and it’s interesting dealing with the public.
“We’re pretty good mates, there’s no great issues, we have the same tastes which helps.
“She’s the creative one … I tend to take care of the running of the business, the everyday stuff.”
Recent Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed some interesting trends among the nation’s mothers.
The median age of first-time mums in 2016 was 30.5 – up from 29 in 2011 – with women aged 30-34 having the highest fertility rate of 123 babies per 1,000 women.
The teenage fertility rate continued to decline.
The total fertility rate in 2016 was 1.789 babies per woman, down from 1.875 in 2006 and 1.805 in 1996.
Since 1976, Australia’s fertility rate has been below the replacement level of 2.1.
In 2016, mums made up at least 77 per cent of Australian women aged 15 years and over, and at least 20 per cent of women aged 20-29 were mums.
At least 10,300 – or 0.2 per cent of all women who had given birth – were in same-sex relationships.