Canberra's Anna Flanagan. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Hockeyroos star Anna Flanagan will spearhead Canberra's assault at the revamped Australian Hockey League and says the shortened national tournament is still valuable in bridging the gap between club competition and the international arena.
Hockey ACT has lost $60,000 in ACT government funding after Hockey Australia condensed the AHL from a round-robin home and away series over a number of weeks to a nine-day event in two host cities.
The Canberra Lakers will contest the men's tournament in Melbourne from September 27 to October 5, while Flanagan will headline the Canberra Strikers team involved in the women's event in Hobart at the same time.
The Lakers and Strikers are ineligible for ACT government funding because Canberra will no longer stage home matches.
Flanagan attributed the change to a busy international schedule with both the Australian senior and junior women's teams and was confident the majority of players would make themselves available for the tournament.
''It's timing really,'' Flanagan said.
''We've got the Super Series, there's qualifiers and there's World League 4 after that.
''It's hard for players back home and across the country, but going away for that week you've still got a job to do and you want to win a national title.
''For Canberra it'll be pretty special.''
The 21-year-old used strong performances in the AHL as a springboard to making her Hockeyroos debut in 2010.
Three years later, and Flanagan has become a regular in the national side, representing her country at last year's London Olympic Games and being named the World Young Player of the Year for 2012.
''Although it (the AHL) has been shortened, you still get six games at that level and still get to experience that either way,'' Flanagan said.
''It's a big step up from club hockey in Canberra and it gives you that next level of competition.
''It's still important for the up and coming players and bridging the gap between the international stage and club hockey.''
After the AHL, Flanagan will return to national duty for the fourth round of the World League in Argentina, followed by next year's World Cup in Holland in May.