As the Australian and Dutch men's hockey teams clashed over the weekend in the West Australian town of Narrogin, locals pointed with pride to their own ancient Indigenous ball-and-stick game that closely resembles the modern Olympic sport.
The Wheatbelt town has emerged as an unlikely focal point for international hockey, but country WA's connection to the game goes way back to the Noongar sport of 'dumbung'.
Documents from the Heritage Council of Western Australia show that 19th Century European explorers watched games of dumbung played on the shores of Lake Dumbleyung.
Wilmen elder Grant Riley from the nearby town of Dumbleyung is preserving the traditional Indigenous sport.
"I heard about it when I was seven or eight years old. The old fellas used to talk about it," he said.
"My grandfather used to make the old hockey sticks out of the mangart tree, they would pull them up and shape the roots into an hook so that they could hit the ball."
It was a similar groundswell of community support that brought the Australian men's team to Narrogin this weekend for the first of four clashes with the Netherlands.
As former Kookaburras captain and Narrogin local Bevan George tells it, the demand for hockey in the Wheatbelt is impossible to ignore.
"Narrogin is punching above its weight compared to a lot of other regional towns, for sure," the Olympic gold-medallist said.
"I think (the town) gets a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment out of knowing they can pull this off."
A new synthetic turf and weeks of tireless work by volunteers turned Narrogin Hockey Stadium into a world-class venue hosting two of the very best ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Mr George said the event recognises the important role regional communities play in Australia's national sporting identity.
"As an international hockey player, you're really taught to embrace the local culture no matter where you go, whether its India or Pakistan," he said.
"They don't have towns like this in Holland so they will be getting right into it for sure."
Were Indigenous Australians the first to play hockey?
As much as hockey in WA's Great Southern region is growing in strides, some believe the connection to the sport had always been there.
Kenneth Edwards is an associate professor at the University of Southern Queensland and one of Australia's leading experts on traditional Aboriginal sports and games.
He said variations of hockey-like games were played across Australia, in particular by Indigenous Australians in the regions south of Perth prior to the arrival of Europeans.
"There has been some suggestion that shipwrecked sailors introduced the game to that region of WA, but that doesn't appear to be correct," Mr Edwards said.
"In some cases, the games were deeply embedded in established ceremonial practices and coincided with times when food was plentiful."
Dumbleyung's Grant Riley said his region was the perfect setting for such meetings.
"There were many games played out at the lake because all the rivers ran into it and it had an abundance of food," Mr Riley said.
"The tribes knew all of this, that's why when they would come and meet, they would have ceremonies, marriages and play games that amused them."
Hopes for a Indigenous hockey revival
Mr Edwards has recorded thousands of Indigenous games referenced by early settlers, missionaries and Aboriginal elders.
Many resemble modern sports such as wrestling, swimming and ball games.
"These games played an important role in pre-European Australian societies," he said.
"Sport was not separated from other areas of life. The stick-and-ball games observed in southern Western Australia, like a lot of traditional sports, were woven into the fabric of everyday activity."
Mr Riley says he wants to promote the game of dumbung at home to Indigenous and non-Indigenous sports fans in the hockey-mad Great Southern.
"That game is a fascinating thing to hold on to, just the way they played it. It could even start up again," he said.
"We are the oldest continuous culture in the world. Our people need to know that we had a way of life that was healthy.
"We were a pretty staunch people back then, because of our supply of food, we were always on the move and we played sports that brought people together."