Sticking together for three generations
The Roskill Eden hockey club is in the Vao family’s blood.
At 46, Diane Vao is still playing for the club’s premier women’s side after 30 years.
And this season the team captain has been joined by her 15-year-old daughter Tori in the starting 11.
But Tori says she doesn’t get any special treatment from her mum.
“She yells at everyone, which makes me work harder.”
After playing in junior teams for several years, the Epsom Girls Grammar student is finding the premier league much more of a challenge.
“It’s way more intense and improves my skills playing at a higher level,” she says.
After so many years at the top, Diane isn’t sure how long she’ll continue to play premier hockey.
But with her mother Jill Penny, 69, still representing the club in open grade hockey, it could be for a few years yet.
“Every time I say I’m going to retire, my daugh- ters tell me my mum is still playing, so I’m not allowed to retire until she does,” Diane says.
“It’s a family club and there are a few families like us.”
The Epsom resident will get another chance to grab some silverware before she decides to hang up her stick.
Roskill Eden will battle it out with arch-rivals Somer- ville on Saturday in the premier women’s club hockey final. “If we win a championship this year, that would be a good way to finish,” Diane says.
Roskill Eden premier women’s coach Leigh Crawley says Diane has made an immense contribution to the club over the years.
“Diane is from the old school where you play whether you’re injured or not and fight to the bitter end. If she’s not there, it isn’t the same.”
Leigh sees similarities between mother and daughter. “They’re very similar in playing style. Tori’s quite tenacious and has a very strong build.”
As for her side’s finals prospects, Leigh is confident they can come away with the title, despite having five senior players away in Beijing supporting New Zealand at the Olympics.
“We’ve played the last three games without them and played really well,” she says.
“That’s meant we’ve had our babies on the field and they’ve been stepping up to the mark.”
The Roskill Eden men’s side will also take the field on Saturday against the Auckland Indian Sports Club.
The finals take place on Saturday at Lloyd Elsmore Park from 1pm.
Family: Tori Vao, 15, and mum Diane, 46, are looking to take the Roskill Eden team to victory in the Auckland premier women’s hockey competition on Saturday.