I started my last blog with “What a whirlwind” of a first few weeks in Holland. The amazing hockey, the new faces, the media attention and a whole different language and culture. Turns out none of this really settled down as we sunk our teeth into the start of competition!

There have been many questions circulating of why I have come to Holland and MOP to play, one of the smaller clubs making their mark in the Hoofdklasse competition. As I have documented in the media I came for the expertise of coach Toon Siepman, who in not only in my opinion but also probably all players who have dealt with him, the best drag flicking coach in the world. Something that I have been working on in my game but needs some big changes if I want to improve and be the best that I can in this area.

Flanagan RU

So, since being here I have been working with Toon alongside the junior Dutch flicking specialist Lieke Van Wijk also at MOP. For me it is a matter of learning whereby a change of technique means I will need to go backwards before I go forwards. It has been difficult because when you practice a certain way for years, changing it in a few sessions can be challenging no matter how hard you try to get that small white ball to roll up your stick. It takes time, focus, frustration management on my part and an eye like Toon to see those small things that others cannot.

I did not come to MOP expecting to walk in and be the best drag flicker challenging for top goal scorer. I came to learn. Lieke Van Wijk has made her first senior Dutch squad and been working with Toon for years, therefore has an effective technique that is a weapon not only for this team but also the future Dutch national team. Of course I want as many opportunities in games as I can, I am extremely competitive and would be lying if I said I did not. But when asked if this was expected, yes it was. I am confident if I get an opportunity I can score, as I am always determined, but I know and my coaches know, there is so much improvement to be made. And although I feel like a senior athlete, at 22 I have time to make these changes. In saying all this I can have the best coaches around me but in the end it is my responsibility to implement the learning’s I have gained. They cannot force me to change; I must take ownership of my own improvement. There have been ups and downs adapting to a new culture and game but I believe after a period of adjustment it will pay out for the team and myself.

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So when asked why I came to MOP? It is to learn, to improve and grow my game. Yes I want to be the best and for me this is a step to reach my goal. I have also been lucky enough to experience the coaching of Jeroen Delmee, headcoach of Belgium men’s team, and Eric Verboom former assistant coach of the Dutch men’s team, who both take a training at MOP once a week. I have already learnt a great deal at MOP and in this competition. A team that can play great hockey if we do it together and not individually, each player has a role and I am trying to fit mine for what the team needs, which can take time.] It is another learning curve for me, to play their style, adjust to their game plan and understand as much Dutch as I can. So far the two language lessons I have had in Holland mean that I can introduce myself and say where I come from, but otherwise I am pretty useless.. the damn ‘G’ gets me where you have to make that gargle at the back of your throat, its impossible! Ok anyway sidetracked…. So aside from the language barrier, I love the hockey in Holland, I am planning on playing more seasons in this competition, the strongest in the world, and having a European base all with the goal in mind of becoming the best player I can be.

I have now had to leave the MOP girls for two weeks to play in the Australian National Hockey League. Being back with the girls I have grown up playing hockey with since I was as young as nine years old is really special for me. I have lived away from my home playing with the national team for the last four years so I cherish being able to play for my State ACT and share my learning’s from the international stage. Based in sunny Brisbane this year, we stay together in accommodation for the duration of the tournament- doing team activities and recovering to give ourselves the best chance to do well. It will be a tough competition with selection up for grabs and a trophy to be won. Last year we came fourth out of eight, and with only two international players have our work cut out to beat the bigger states, something we fully believe we can achieve. I was asked what the main difference is between the Australian and Dutch competition, I will answer this one on my way back to Holland, maybe with a few goals and medal in hand! With six games to play in a week I am looking forward to the challenge, to again learn, improve and continue on the road to being the best I can. GO STRIKERS!

You can keep up to date with how Anna and her Canberra Strikers teammates get on here.

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Anna Flanagan
World hockey’s Young Player of the Year for 2012, Anna Flanagan is one of a group of young Australian athletes rapidly rising to the top together. Known as ‘Flanno’ or ‘Boy’ amongst teammates and friends, Flanagan reached a century of international appearances three years after making her debut. With a passion for the media industry and a keen blogger, Flanagan has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has spent time both in front of the camera and behind the scenes with broadcasters in Perth in recent years. Now studying for a law degree to add to her journalism qualification, she also has a certificate three and four in fitness. Despite playing with her trademark yellow ribbon in her hair, Flanagan describes herself as a bit of a tomboy. Introduced to hockey through family, the youngster from Canberra initially refused to play because she was made to wear a skirt. At age eight she won that particular battle as her club allowed her to play in leggings; possibly one the smartest decisions made in the history of Australian hockey as Flanagan’s love affair with hockey quickly took off.

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