Suzette Thomas from Muchea, WA is one of four females who will represent Australia in the Adina Polocrosse World Cup 2019, taking place in Warwick, QLD from 22-28 April 2019. Suzette is a country girl through and through, and we spoke to her to find out how she juggles her polocrosse commitments, start up business, and raising a family in rural WA. Read more Suzette's story in our #13 Summer magazine.
Suzette Thomas’ first memory of polocrosse was watching her dad, granddad and uncles play in the back paddock of the family farm in Boddington, WA. Suzette’s great grandfather, who came to Australia on a boat from Ireland, purchased the 50 acre parcel of land in the middle of a jarrah forest, and cleared it single-handedly using a horse drawn carriage.
Horses and riding had always been a big part of life on the farm, so it only seemed natural that their chosen sport would involve the much-loved animal.
Sadly, Suzette’s father died when she was four years old, leaving her mum to raise her and her three sisters. Her brother had also passed away five years earlier, tragically drowning when he was two years old. Despite the challenges Suzette’s mother faced - raising four young children, grieving the loss of a child and husband, and managing a property - she made sure that the girl’s had a fantastic childhood.
The girls loved being on the property and all had jobs to do. They would help their grandfather with the cattle, and on school holidays they would stay with their aunty and uncle on their sheep and wheat farm in Boddington, where they would help muster the sheep on horseback.
At the age of seven, Suzette joined her sisters and began playing polocrosse. Anyone involved in horse sports knows the commitment required – both financially and time-wise – and Suzette’s mother, not being a ‘horse person’ herself, made sure that the four girls got to every practice and competition, and had everything they needed to play the sport they loved.
Her mother’s efforts have paid off, with all of the girls achieving great things in the sport. Most recently, Suzette, who plays for South Midlands club in WA, has been named in the Top 8 players in the country and will represent Australia at the 2019 Adina Polocrosse World Cup in Warwick, Queensland, in April 2019.
Suzette said that at age 35, she is a ‘veteran’ of the women’s section and will be focusing on her training and fitness in the lead up to the World Cup.
“Polocrosse is a fast-paced, physically and mentally challenging sport, so not only do you need to be working on your game skills, but also your fitness, riding and response times,” Suzette said.
“This year’s team is really exciting, with some seasoned representative players as well as young up-and-coming players. We all bring something different to the team. As one of the older members, I have to work really hard to keep up with the younger ones, so gym work, racquet skills (both on and off the horse), riding and running are all part of my weekly training routine.”
“Polocrosse is definitely a sport that you need to be committed to. Since I was seven, I have been travelling to games every weekend during the season, and it generally means an overnight stay. While it is a big commitment, it is also what I love about the sport. It’s a full weekend away with the family. This is also why the polocrosse community is really close-knit – we spend a lot of time together. I also love that it is a sport the whole family can play. My four kids all ride and play and my husband has played for WA and been in the Australian Squad in the past. There really is no other sport quite like it!” she said.
Suzette played for Australia in the 2007 World Cup in Warwick, which was the last World Cup Australia won, and has also represented Australia on numerous occasions since including her most recent representations in the South Africa Women’s Test in 2017 and the Zambia Test in July 2018. She captained the WA women’s team at the Darwin Nationals in 2012, which they won, coached by her husband and with one of her sisters as a team mate. In October 2018, she played for WA at the Australian Nationals in Perth, alongside her three sisters.
On top of her polocrosse commitments, Suzette recently opened her own business, a swim school in Muchea.
“Having had a brother who drowned at a young age, I have always been extremely passionate about making sure children learn to swim,” Suzette said.
“I realised there was a gap in the market as there was no year-round swimming facility in the area and people were having to travel 40 minutes one way to access these services – not ideal for children! I wanted to create something locally to ensure all children were able to learn this important life skill.”
“It has been an incredibly long process – over four years just to get the building started. There has been lots of red tape and road blocks, as we built the school from scratch, and there are a huge number of health and safety requirements that come with running a swimming facility. I finally started building in August 2017 and the facility officially opened in January 2018.”
“While the business is still in start up phase, I’m happy with the way things are going and the response from the local community has been wonderful. Some days I wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew, but when you are truly passionate about something, it keeps you going!” she said.
The Polocrosse World Cup will be held in Warwick, QLD from 22-28 April 2019. Polocrosse is one of only three home-grown Australian sports, along with Aussie Rules football and Campdraft. The 2019 Polocrosse World Cup will attract 300 competitors from around the world, 2,000 international guests and 60,000 spectators, making it the largest international sporting event ever held in rural Australian.
The Queensland Government, via Tourism and Events Queensland, is proud to support the 2019 Polocrosse World Cup, which features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar. Your perfect next event is in Queensland where live events combine with the most incredible destinations, and life is beautiful one day, perfect the next.