January will be a big month for the Azzopardi family with brother and sister Brentin and Lara both selected to represent Australia in ice hockey.
Lara, 16, will head to her first world championships in Poland, representing the under-18s women’s team, while Brentin, 18, will travel to Bulgaria with the under-20s men’s team.
Brentin previously played in the 2016 under-18s tournament and is looking forward to returning.
“It means everything to have this opportunity,” he said. “I know it’s a minor sport in Australia but it’s still representing your country so you give it your all.”
The Bella Vista siblings’ careers on the ice have been linked since the earliest forays into the sport.
Starting at Norwest Ice Arena, Lara started skating in the penguins club.
Thinking it looked fun, Brentin joined her but soon found hockey.
Lara did figure skating for seven years before trying out the sport.
“We’ve been playing together for a while, we’ve played on the same team together and that’s really cool to have that special bond with your sibling,” Lara said. “Brentin was playing hockey and I thought I might as well try it – I love it.”
Brentin added the sibling bond has helped drive them to the success they’ve had with both competing at international level.
“It’s good because we’ve always played together so we always push each other to keep doing our best,” Brentin said.
“It’s a good bond we have – not many other siblings can say that we’ve both represented Australia especially at young ages.”
Brentin has been part of the Sydney Ice Dogs squad in the Australian Ice Hockey League with six games in 2016, while Lara was selected in the Sydney Sirens Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League team this season. She has played four games for the team.
“The Sirens is so much fun,” she said.
“It’s a family and you get to go to Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, meet everyone and play at a high level in Australia so it’s good.”
Lara was also the recipient of a Shine Hills Schools Award recently, taking out the sports category.
Lara and the Australian under-18s women’s team will head to Poland for the World Championships Division I Group B between January 6-12.
“You always want to win gold but this year will be tough,” she said.
“As long as we work hard and keep playing I think it will be good.”
Meanwhile, Brentin and the under-20s men will play in Bulgaria in the World Championships Division III between January 22-28.
“Hopefully we can bring back the gold so we can get promoted to the next division up,” he said.
“With my hockey career, I’ll just have to take it as it goes. If I get offers from places in the US but if not, it’s not the end of the world, I’ve still got uni to look forward to. I’ll keep playing hockey for as long as I can.”