Matt Dawson is approaching what could be the busiest period of his hockey career, bookended by Olympic campaigns in Tokyo and Paris just three years apart.
Norths defender Dawson, like many athletes around the world, continues to deal with uncertainty surrounding the already postponed Games going ahead in 2021 amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
But if international travel restrictions were eventually eased and the showpiece event did get the green light, it means Dawson and his Kookaburras teammates would play in Japan next year, followed by the Commonwealth Games in England in 2022 and a World Cup in India in 2023 before returning to the Olympics in France in 2024.
"I guess the positive out of it all for us, hopefully the Olympics do go ahead in Tokyo and it means we'd have a major tournament every year until the next Games in Paris," Dawson, 26, told the Newcastle Herald.
"[After 2021] There'd be a Commonwealth Games and a World Cup into an Olympics. It seems like it could be an exciting time for the boys [Australian squad]."
The Federation Internationale de Hockey (FIH) recently announced a fixtures list to resume the 2020 Pro League next year.
Inaugural champions the Kookaburras, who earlier this year visited India and hosted Belgium, Great Britain and Argentina before the COVID-19 outbreak saw competition paused, are now set to play a double header against New Zealand in Perth on April 24 and 25.
The Australian men's squad are then due to travel overseas for two encounters each with Spain, Netherlands and Germany during May.
However, Dawson is taking a "wait and see" approach and depending on public health orders down the track says "potentially we won't have any international matches before the Olympics."
He said there are early talks around next year's Oceania Cup being moved from after the Olympics to before the Games, but nothing has been confirmed at this stage.
Tokyo, which should be underway at the moment, is now 12 months away.
"It's a different feeling now," Dawson said.
"This time last year we were training and saying next year is the Olympics, we're a year out we've got to ramp it up. Now, the Olympics are 12 months away again, but are they?"
The Kookaburras returned to training at their Perth headquarters earlier this month.
Dawson said the forced break, almost four months in total, was "the longest I'd gone not picking up a hockey stick since I was 10 years old."
Outside the physical benefits of regrouping for sessions together, the former Gosford High School student said he also enjoyed the camaraderie that simply comes with playing team sport.
"It was somewhat refreshing being out of it for a while, which has made a lot of the guys even keener to get back into it now," he said.
"You miss getting out there and being part of it, but you also miss being around everyone almost every day.
"You train together, you play together and then you go away and live in each other's pockets for four weeks at a time. We've got a good group of guys that get on really well and when you take that away it's pretty hard."
Dawson said the unexpected experience has offered him some perspective.
"I think sport had a bit of a reality check," he said. "There's a lot of people a lot worse off than us. We're pretty lucky we do what we do."
Dawson, who has 140 Test caps and 12 goals to his name after debuting in 2014, is currently playing club hockey in Perth with Victoria Park.
Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League outfit Norths went down 2-1 to Gosford on Sunday.
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