Hockey star and ‘Queensland Great’ Daphne Pirie dies aged 90

Champion hockey player Daphne Pirie has been remembered as a lifelong lover of sport and a trailblazer for female athletes in Queensland, right up until her death at 90 years of age on Friday.

But it was a chance encounter that led her to hockey, and the man she came to love.

Already a nationally ranked track and field athlete, Pirie was in her 20s when she was training with her sister Nola in Brisbane’s Wooloowin when two men across the field caught their eye.

“There was some Valley Hockey Club men training on the oval,” Pirie’s niece Jodi Holmes said.

“They thought those guys looked alright, so they thought they might try hockey.”

The quest for romance on the field paid off.

Daphne and Mick Pirie an their wedding day.(Supplied)

“I kid you not, Aunty Daphne married uncle Mick, so uncle Mick was one of the players playing hockey while they doing their athletic training,” Ms Holmes said.

“And my mother Nola married Stewart, who was also training at the time.”

Despite the late entry into the sport, Pirie’s determination saw her conquer any barrier in her way.

It was no easy feat to get into hockey.

Pirie and Nola had to restart the Valley Hockey Club’s female side, which had disbanded during World War II.

Two years after that night on the field, she was picked to represent Queensland in Hockey.

Nola (on right) and Daph in the Queensland uniform.
Daphne and Nola in the Queensland uniform.(Supplied: Jodi Holmes)

“She ended up representing Australia and Queensland many times,” Ms Holmes said.

“I think the team atmosphere, she really thrived on that. She loved being part of a team.”

Pirie achieved national and international success in track and field, hockey and golf during her 40-year career in sport.

After retiring from hockey, she would return to athletics once more, setting records on the world stage at Masters events.

She received an Order of Australia in 2012, was an inductee of the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame and the Hockey Queensland Hall of Fame, president of the Gold Coast Sporting Hall of Fame and was the founding president of Womensport Queensland and the first female vice-president of the Queensland Olympic Council.

Daphne Pirie
Granddaughter Bonnie Pirie top left, great nephew Jordan Holmes, top right, and great nieces Lily Daphne Holmes (left) and Amy Holmes (right).(Supplied: Jodi and Chris Holmes)

Despite her sporting achievements, she would never compete at an Olympics.

Women’s hockey was not added to the Olympic program until 1980, after she had retired from the sport.

Despite never having competed, in 2011 she was awarded a Women and Sport Trophy for Oceania by the International Olympic Committee.

Ms Holmes said her aunt was “ecstatic” to hear Brisbane would be hosting the 2032 Olympic Games.

Daph posing with her sister and niece.
Daph’s sister Nola Slade,  niece Jodi Holmes and Daphne (LtR).(Supplied: Jodi Holmes)

President of the Brisbane Women’s Hockey Association, Karin Walduck, said Pirie was a staunch supporter of Valley’s, the club she helped to build, until her death on Friday.

Players observed a minute’s silence during Friday’s premier match.

“She was a role model for women in sport that you can keep being active in sport in many different ways for the whole of your life,” Dr Walduck said.

“We need women and strong women who can lead others in taking charge, if you like, or taking control of being involved in this sport”.

Queensland Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Pirie dedicated her life to the pursuit of sporting excellence.

“In particular her work with the Queensland Academy of Sport and her promotion and support to women in sport,” he said.

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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