Flanagan returns home for first time since school

It's a start but Canberra hockey star Anna Flanagan knows she still has a long way to go.

The next step for the former Hockeyroo will be when she returns for to Canberra to play her first game at home since she was at school.

Flanagan will play for the Canberra Strikers against NSW at the National Hockey Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday, as they prepare for the Australian Hockey League in Perth at the end of September.

It's the next stage of what Flanagan hopes is a return to the international arena after a drink driving charge derailed her 2016 Olympic Games dream.

She's just returned from her first Hockeyroos camp, where she began her push for selection at next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Now she'll pull on the Strikers jersey in her home town - and she hopes to bring some NSW secrets to help the ACT get one over their rivals.

Flanagan will hitch a ride up from Sydney, where she now lives, on the NSW team bus.

"I can't remember the last time, I think I was still in school, when I played in Canberra, so I'm pretty excited about it," she said.

"I've put my hand up for selection at AHL and it just depends how I play there."

Flanagan had her first camp back in the Hockeyroos fold on a visiting athlete scholarship where she was welcomed back with a few "run and jump hugs" from former teammates.

The former golden girl took on a leadership role at the camp and was happy with how she went.

She was hopeful it could be the catalyst for a return to the green and gold as they start to ramp up preparations for next year's Comm Games.

"I guess that was the start of my journey back ... and to show what I can bring to the group as well," Flanagan said.

"I had a group of five girls who were 20-21, which I looked after while we were over there as well, so coming back in with a bit more of a senior role, which was nice.

"Initially it was pretty overwhelming after thinking a year ago that I wasn't going to play on and to be back in the mix and somewhere I feel pretty comfortable with having spent seven years of my life training internationally.

"It's a start, there's still a long way to go, but it's definitely a positive step."

The 25-year-old stepped away from the game for personal reasons after missing out on last year's Olympics in Brazil and thought she might never return to the international arena.

But her move to Sydney has helped her find balance in her life and she said her mental resilience had improved to a point where now she's better placed to cope if she doesn't make it back to the top.

"I'm feeling really mentally resilient having come back through the other end of going through a mentally difficult time last year," Flanagan said.

"When you overcome those demons and in elite sport there's always going to be tough ups and downs, but I feel all the things I've been through in the last two years really made me change my perspective on things.

"I have a lot more balance in my life and if things don't go how I want them to, I'll still be OK."

The Canberra Lakers will play a tri-series against NSW and Victoria, which started on Monday night.

CAPITAL HOCKEY CHALLENGE AT LYNEHAM

Tuesday: Victoria Vikings v NSW Waratahs, 3.30pm; Canberra Strikers v NSW Arrows, 5.30pm.

Wednesday: Canberra Lakers v NSW Waratahs, 4pm; Canberra Strikers v NSW Arrows, 6pm.

The story Flanagan returns home for first time since school first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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