Every now and then when I’m watching a hockey game I wonder what drives people to take the field.
To wake up every week, change into a uniform and run around after a ball, often in the freezing cold.
They’re a funny lot, hockey players.
But in the end, the answer is pretty simple: it’s just nice to be part of a team.
Every week I get to run out alongside my younger brother.
It’s one of the things that makes being part of a team that much more special.
We aren’t playing for money. We aren’t playing for glory. We’re just playing.
Two brothers who have a bit more on the line than the Doutrés are Blake and Kieran Govers.
They pulled on the green and gold together for the first time this year.
But it wasn’t exactly the typical family reunion, as Blake explained:
“Growing up I didn’t play much hockey with Kieran because he was in the older age groups and he was in Perth while I was coming though the club ranks, so it was not what some people may think,” Blake said.
“I had played more games with Australia than him at that point.”
First tour with the little bro! My first in 10 months since surgery! Can't wait 2 get back on the field with the lads pic.twitter.com/5z3aDoIrVD
— Kieran Ian Govers (@Wizza27) June 9, 2015
The Kookaburras didn’t win that match, which also happened to be Kieran’s 100th Aussie cap, and the fact the Govers brothers had just represented their country for the first time together did not really dawn on the youngest of the two.
“You are just in the zone and just playing so you don’t think about that as such,” Blake said.
“You think about it but you don’t let it overwhelm you. It probably hit home most when Kieran had his presentation before the game.
“He got his 100th game plaque and that was our first game together and that was the biggest thing from my point of view.”
Blake has gone from strength to strength since his debut in Hobart earlier this year. It culminated in a successful World League tournament in which he snared the most goals and best young player award.
“I just went out there with a bit of an attitude that they don’t know me and not to be scared or shy away from it,” Blake says about the tournament, which the Kookaburras won.
“It was probably good that no one really knew me. I could do my own thing.”
After the tournament finished he hopped on a plane with his brother, but it wasn’t until they were both lounging on the couch in their family home at Wollongong that they allowed themselves a debrief.
“We didn’t speak about the games [during the tournament] but when we got home, because we didn’t really get to watch it from a tv perspective, we watched it together.”
— FIH (@FIH_Hockey) June 24, 2015
But as it is for all professionals, it wasn’t easy to switch off.
“We were still in tournament mode. We just discussed the game more than anything, rather than sit back and embrace the win, probably because it was so tough. We didn’t really win that game convincingly.”
There may be an eight-year difference between the two, and there’s been a lot of time since they started out with Albion Park Hockey Club, but like all younger brothers, Blake remembers hoping to walk in the shoes of his big brother.
“In the early stages I was definitely trying to emulate him.
“Before I made my own sort of stamp I was trying emulate and do exactly what Kieran did.
“As it got closer and closer I was starting to build up my own portfolio.”
The Govers brothers will have to face the inevitable comparison about who is the better player but for now, Blake is continuing to make his mark.
As for my younger brother and I, we aren’t even lucky enough to be compared to each other.
Thanks to the unwavering wit of my team-mates, I’ll be forever known as ‘my dad’s son’ or ‘my sister’s brother’ – one of the curses of having infinitely more talented relatives out on the field.
There are a funny lot, hockey players. Hilarious.
Four things you didn’t know about the Govers brothers
1. Who got the first tattoo?
“Kieran got the southern cross with ‘Aus’ written on it. That was just after one of his under-21 tournaments at the Australian Youth Olympics Festival.
“He didn’t tell mum about it. I was the one that leaked it out. I said to mum I wanted to get the tattoo that Kieran had.”
2. What does mum say about the tattoos?
“I’ve got a tattoo saying ‘Jennifer’. I got that on my wrist. That’s her name, so she can’t complain.”
3. What have you learnt from Kieran?
“With all his injuries, just to keep going with what you want to do and you can succeed if you take long enough in doing it.”
4. What do you do better than your brother?
“I can drive the ‘green machine’ faster. I’m buying his old ute off him and they call it the ‘green machine’. It’s gone down the drags and… I can make it go faster.”
IN THE NET
Goalkeepers are the unsung heroes of the hockey field. It’s rare that they get celebrated but Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch is always one to champion the cause. She recently put the call out around the world for the ‘faces of goalkeepers’. Check it out below:
— Rachael Lynch (@RachLynch27) July 27, 2015
Tim Doutré tweets here: @TimDoutre