Stick­ing to­gether for three gen­er­a­tions

Central Leader - - Sport - By Scott Morgan

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.

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