By Helen Tatchell
At just 14-years of age, Zali Ward spends up to four days a week travelling to Melbourne to attend an array of hockey commitments for her premier league team Essendon, and her Hockey Victoria academy and representative teams.
Living in Darley and a student at BM Grammar, Zali first made headlines this time last year when she played in the gold medal winning Victorian under 15 national hockey titles in Sydney, as well as being selected for Essendon at just 13 years of age in the highest level adult female hockey league in Victoria – Women’s Premier League.
In mid-April this year Zali played for Victoria in the Hockey Australia National Under 15 Hockey Championships held in Wollongong, in which her team won a silver medal after losing to NSW in a nail biting national final that went deep in to an extra time penalty shoot-out.
Despite an injury and missing one early game, Zali recovered to play strongly as a mid-fielder and up forward.
“The final was an amazing game. After full time the scores were level at 1-1 and then we had a 5-player shoot-out to try and determine the winner,” she said.
The shoot-out ended in a 3-3 draw when Zali calmly slotted a goal under immense pressure to keep the final alive and send it to a sudden death penalty stage.
“NSW scored a 4-3 shoot-out win in the sudden death to take the gold, but I loved every minute of my time on and off the hockey field in Wollongong,” she said.
Australian Capped Hockey legend David Wansbrough coached her team, imparting invaluable hockey and personal development skills to the team both on and off the hockey pitch.