Richard and Matt Willis have given plenty to the game of hockey but both are also thankful of how much the game has done for them. Earlier this year, the pair had the chance to run in the Queen’s Baton Relay in Tamworth.
As if being named a batonbearer for the Queen’s Baton Relay wasn’t special enough, father and son Richard and Matt Willis will go through the experience together.
The hockey pair were two of 15 people chosen to carry the Queen’s Baton through Tamworth on its way to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“It’s pretty special and he’s been a big part of my sporting career,” Matt said of his dad who has coached Tamworth and NSW sides and now holds a position with Hockey NSW.
“I probably wouldn't be where I am without him.”
“To think our family’s involved on so many levels [is special],” Richard added.
“My mother’s very proud that she has a son and a grandson involved. Her sister also has a grandson involved in Caloundra.”
Along with agreeing it was special to do the relay together, both Richard and Matt – who was elevated to the main national men’s hockey squad earlier this year – thought it was a great way to “celebrate hockey” and all involved.
And Matt also thought Tamworth was the perfect place to put the sport in the spotlight.
“Definitely, especially in a place like Tamworth,” Matt said.
“It’s great. It’s such a strong hockey area with such a large number of players representing NSW and coming through the ranks in the junior Australian teams.”
Richard also took the announcement as a time to reflect on the help he’s received along his own hockey journey.
“It’s a time to celebrate people who have supported me,” Richard said.
“There’s a variety of people who help the sport whether it be coaches, the media or the local associations that provide the facilities.
“It’s a celebration of what hockey has to offer to coaches, athletes and their families.”
Richard also said himself and his son weren’t the only hockey players to carry the Queen’s Baton through Tamworth.
“George Barton, he’s a shooter but you can throw him on the list. He’s a closest hockey player,” Richard said.
“He’s played hockey with both me and Matthew.”