Australia's Latest World Champs Did The Most Humble Thing After Winning
In sport, it matters HOW you win just as much as whether you win.
And the Aussie Kookaburras men's hockey team won both a hockey match and the hearts of locals in The Netherlands overnight, beating Belgium 3-2 in a thrilling final of hockey's new Pro League, then personally thanking the unpaid volunteers who made the final possible.
Which was very nice of them.
This year's Pro League was the inaugural best-of-the-best league which pitted the world's top men's and women's hockey nations against each other in a format more like a football competition, lasting half a year.
It replaced the old Champion's Trophy -- a tournament-style event run in a brief window -- and also replaced many of the essentially meaningless bilateral series.
And it was a huge success. Big crowds turned out at games here in Australia and all around the world. The Kookaburras dominated throughout, topping the ladder, then beating second-placed Belgium in a final which they led 3-0 before surviving a desperate comeback.
"We definitely dictated the terms at the start of the game and our first quarter was outstanding, but from there on Belgium played pretty well," Aussie coach Colin Batch said.
"Belgium piled on the pressure and we defended and absorbed it very well, but we needed to do more with the ball and I think that's the area of growth for us."
This was a huge result for the Kookaburras, a year out from the Tokyo Olympics. Not only did they win the Pro League, but like Ash Barty, they soared to number one on the world rankings.
Mind you, they've been in this position before. The Kookas have dominated international hockey more years than not, but only have one Olympic gold medal -- at Athens 2004 -- to show for it.
In the women's Pro league final, it was a case of soooooo close for the Hockeyroos, who lost a penalty shootout in the final to The Netherlands.
Nevertheless, Aussie hockey is in a good state overall.
It would also be remiss of us not to mention that New Zealand came last in the men's Pro League with no wins from their 14 matches. We obviously bring you this news to satisfy your hunger for hockey information, not to gloat.
Australia 3 (Mitton 9’, Ogilvie 14’, Govers 29’)Belgium 2 (Luypaert 44’, Hendrickx 58’)