Muscat — “Seeing Australia at the bottom of the pool kind of stung,” admitted Kieran Symons, a 28-year-old electrician from Melbourne. And so the Kookaburras Hockey5s team took the green and gold to heart and produced their best performance of this World Cup to beat USA 6-3 and earn their first win in Oman.
“From where we started to now, it’s been wild and [the win] put a smile on our faces for sure,” added Symons, whose family name runs through Altona HC, a club based in the western suburbs of Melbourne.
Selection for the Australia team was based outside of the high performance sector and on the national indoor and country championships, where 10 players from each tournament were picked. It was then whittled down from a selection committee before the Hockey5s qualifiers.
An indoor exponent who has been on the fringes of Australia’s indoor squad, Symons’ preference is outdoors.
A week after he found out he and his partner were expecting a baby, Symons then discovered that he was selected for the Hockey5s Oceania Cup last July, which acted as a World Cup qualifier for Muscat.
He recalls: “If I had waited it out for the due date I could have played, but chose not to and luckily three days into the tournament our baby was born. It was a good decision in the end!”
Symons, who scored the opening goal against the US as they raced to a 5-0 lead in the Challenger placings matches, has since relished the squad bond after playing his first ever games in Australia colours.
“The guys had a pre-existing bond on the Gold Coast but it’s been phenomenal to step in with these guys,” he admits.
Forging a path outside of the elite areas, Symons has looked up to his dad, Peter, as inspiration.
Symons senior played in the 70s and 80s, was part of the club’s inaugural 1994 SL1 Premiership side and, according to the club’s website, sported one of the “greatest moustaches of the 1980s”.
His son is naturally sporting one in Muscat, too.
Symons senior also played Masters (O45s) in the green and gold having not had the chance to represent Australia at senior level.
Indeed, Kieran, who once spent a few seasons at Oxford club Banbury, watched him play for his country in Singapore at one Masters event while back home in Victoria, father and son wear the same number at the club.
“I take heart from dad that if you keep plugging away, it doesn’t matter when you pull on the colours,” he says. “Find a niche where you can and there is never a bad time to pull on the green and gold.”