Hockey pair's crucial role establishing sport

AUSTRALIA DAY 2014 - Illawarra OAM Recipients

Mary Marley and Kay Kolsky started playing hockey as teenagers in the 1940s and '50s to stave off boredom.

Little did they know both their spur of the moment decisions would lead to a lifelong involvement in the sport, culminating in mentoring some of Australia's finest female players.

The Illawarra women each received an Order of Australia Medal on Sunday for their decades of dedication to hockey.

Although Mrs Kolsky has been president of the Illawarra Women's Hockey Association, she ranked one of her greatest achievements as convincing former Hockeyroos captain Laurie Packham to play the game.

"The team I was coaching had a really good group of girls, about five or six of them ended up playing for Australia," she said.

"I've had such a lot of fun coaching and mentoring people and met so many people."

One such person was fellow hockey devotee, Mrs Marley.

Mary Marley is an Order of Australia medal recipient for efforts in hockey. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

When she first starting playing the game, Mrs Marley confessed both she and her teammates didn't know the first thing about hockey.

"We just picked up sticks and eventually figured out how to play," she said.

"It took us five years before we won a premiership.

"But once we got there, we stayed on top."

The team borrowed 20 pounds from the local football club to start up the Albion Park Women's Hockey Club.

"We never paid it back and to this day they tell us we owe them 20 pounds," she said.

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