Life as a world-class polocrosse player

Suzette Thomas’ first memory of polocrosse was watching her dad, granddad and uncles play in the back paddock of the family farm in Boddington, Western Australia. Horses and riding had always been a big part of life on the farm, so it only seemed natural that their chosen sport would involve the much-loved animal.

Sadly, Suzette’s father died when she was four years old, leaving her mum to raise her and her three sisters. At the age of seven, Suzette joined her sisters and began playing polocrosse. Anyone involved in horse sports knows the commitment required – both financially and time-wise – and Suzette’s mother, not being a ‘horse person’ herself, made sure that the four girls got to every practice and competition, and had everything they needed to play the sport they loved.

Her mother’s efforts have paid off, with all of the girls achieving great things in the sport. Most recently, Suzette, who plays for South Midlands club in WA, has been named in the Top 10 players in Australia and played in the Australian squad in Zambia, Africa in July 2018.

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Also named in the squad is fellow West Australian, BJ Thomas, who is Suzette’s brother-in-law. Each member of the Australian squad will be vying for one of eight places in the Australian World Cup team, which will compete against the best in the world in Warwick, QLD in April 2019.

Suzette said that at age 34, she is the ‘veteran’ of the squad and would be focusing on her training and fitness in the lead up to the World Cup team selection.

“Polocrosse is a fast-paced, physically and mentally challenging sport, so not only do you need to be working on your game skills, but also your fitness, riding and response times,” Suzette said.

“This year’s Australian squad is really exciting, with some seasoned representative players as well as young up-and-coming players. We all bring something different to the team. As one of the older members, I have to work really hard to keep up with the younger ones, so gym work, cross fit, riding and running are all part of my weekly training routine.”

“Polocrosse is definitely a sport that you need to be committed to. Since I was seven, I have been travelling to games every weekend during the season, and it generally means an overnight stay. While it is a big commitment, it is also what I love about the sport. It’s a full weekend away with the family. This is also why the polocrosse community is really close-knit – we spend a lot of time together. I also love that it is a sport the whole family can play. My four kids all ride and play and my husband has played for WA and been in the Australian Squad in the past. There really is no other sport quite like it!”

“Polocrosse is definitely a sport that you need to be committed to. Since I was seven, I have been travelling to games every weekend during the season, and it generally means an overnight stay. While it is a big commitment, it is also what I love about the sport. It’s a full weekend away with the family. This is also why the polocrosse community is really close-knit – we spend a lot of time together. I also love that it is a sport the whole family can play. My four kids all ride and play and my husband has played for WA and been in the Australian Squad in the past. There really is no other sport quite like it!”

Suzette played for Australia in the 2007 World Cup in Warwick, which was the last World Cup Australia won, and has also represented Australia on numerous occasions since including in the South Africa Women’s Test in 2017. She captained the WA women’s team at the Darwin Nationals in 2012, which they won, coached by her husband and with one of her sisters as a team mate. Suzette’s focus is now squarely on being selected for the 2019 World Cup team, which will be announced following the 2018 Nationals held in Perth in October.

The Adina Polocrosse World Cup will be held in Warwick, QLD from 22-28 April 2019. Polocrosse is one of only three home-grown Australian sports, along with Aussie Rules football and Campdraft. The 2019 Adina Polocrosse World Cup will attract 300 competitors from around the world, 2,000 international guests and 60,000 spectators, making it the largest international sporting event ever held in rural Australian.

Linda Tillman