Danny Caretti is a quiet achiever. He is the first to be grateful for the help he gets in running Bentstix but when you talk to Danny you can feel the pride he has in the way the club has risen from a small start with the 1996 Mardi Gras Hockey Festival to international success. Like Danny, the club is well organised and ambitious.
When Bentstix started playing summer competition against university students it came out and played as a gay team. The club helped in the bid for the Sydney Gay Games and the real kick was in 2002 when field hockey became part of that event. The club has since flourished into a summer club.
Field hockey wasn’t being offered in this year’s Gay Games or Outgames so the club competed at the Eurogames in Utrecht in 2005. With help from their sponsors, the Taxi Club, they raised enough money to take two men’s and one women’s team to Europe where they won gold and bronze for the boys and bronze for the girls.
Summer hockey is a non-contact sport. It has a maximum of 14 in each team with 11 of them on the field; at least five of those 11 must be girls. The play at Little Bay is in the cool of evenings on an artificial surface, watered before play. The two halves are 25 minutes each and skill is more important than stamina.
Danny thinks a lot of people who played at school are closet players and still have their sticks in their cupboards. He says, It’s not a big spectator sport but it is a great sport to play. It is one of those games you can play until you are quite old. Skill with the stick is important and unlike some sports you don’t necessarily burn out by the time you are 30.
For this summer Bentstix needs to recruit more players. Bentstix teams have as broad a range of skills as possible with the aim of balanced competition. Captains help out with the coaching.
The opportunities for fun and travel with Bentstix are great. For the future Bentstix wants to take three men’s teams and two women’s teams to the Copenhagen Outgames in 2009 and the Cologne Gay Games in 2010 if field hockey is available at those events; and, if it isn’t, Bentstix will go to the Eurogames again. Danny says, Everyone wants to get together internationally. As in the past, there is no doubt they will think up ways to raise the money to get there.
Hockey is really a winter sport and many of the Bentstix members play with other clubs during the season. On the local scene, Bentstix provides games, competition and the opportunity to socialise during the summer months. The season runs from October to February and the competition builds with other clubs, including many university student teams, that also play summer league. The season culminates with the Australian Pink Hockey Championships on 24 February, part of the Team Sydney Mardi Gras Sports Festival, and Bentstix is determined to win after university students took the honours last year. Bentstix is also keen to foster competition from other Australian cities and even New Zealand and is hoping the first step will be a Melbourne versus Sydney tournament.
To start the season this year there will be a Have a Go at Hockey day on Sunday 24 September from noon until three o’clock at 1,408 Anzac Parade, Little Bay. If your hockey stick is still in your cupboard, get along to learn about the modified rules for summer hockey and how much fun can be had on Monday or Tuesday evenings. No goalie is one of the differences from the winter season. No hitting at girls is allowed, which is a good thing because Bentstix would like more girls to join up this summer.
Any sport can be confronting if you are inexperienced or out of practice but the Have a Go day is a great way to get a feel for hockey in a friendly, social atmosphere. Let the organisers know beforehand so you can be catered for at the barbecue. Expect basic instructions and some practice of elementary skills. Bring shorts, running shoes and a hockey stick if you have one.
Website: www.bentstix.com.au. Phone: Danny 0407 464 685 or Siobhan 0412 386 049.