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Hockey...For richer or poorer

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

We often get asked if we love the game because we are good or are we good because we love the game. It is probably one of the trickiest questions to answer but the more I think about it, playing team a sport is largely about the people... they influence how much you love the game, and they equally can influence how good you can be.

I grew up on the side of the field, so choosing hockey was a natural thing for me. In apartheid South Africa, hockey in my younger years was very different to my teenage years and adult life in the game. And with the great diversity, still, the people around me were the greatest influence. From my mum, who made many sacrifices to get me to training sessions and games, to the friends I gained, to the coaches who broke me and the coaches who fixed and lifted me up. These experiences on a daily and weekly basis shapes us into resilient, disciplined, compassionate and determined people, something that we take for granted while in the game.

We used to joke about us living the dream as we battled through the routine of training, study, coaching for extra cash and another gym session, but honestly looking back at it, it was tough, but I would do it all again.

At the end of a long career, we have no money nor a massive house or fancy cars but our lives are rich in memories that last a life time and honest, real and raw friendships that others cannot understand, and how could they possibly understand what it feels like to be a million miles away from home, battling the heat and hand washing your smelly kit for lack of laundry budget and eating rice everyday out of fear of a stomach bug in a country where you don't recognize anything else but rice at the hotel buffet. We spent so much time together, totally different people from all walks of our culturally rich South Africa, but brought together for a common goal and sharing experiences we never imagined and forging bonds that just last.

There are the experiences at international level, all the way down to school and uni level...I can still look back and laugh at them like the time at USSA in PE when the umpire didn't know who to give the card to, and pointed randomly at players and when she finally said "it was the blonde one" and all the students in the stands burst out laughing as they saw all the blondes in the team on the bench at that moment hahaha!!

Looking back and reflecting about life now, I am glad that I was fortunate enough to have those experiences, good and bad. I know that life in the office will never be the same to that, but while that brought me no money, I am richer for the experiences and the people I got to meet and know. So while I have to play catch up on the "making the money" game, it is frustrating and there are a few things I could have done differently to make this chapter easier, but you know what...if I would have done so, my story would be different and I love my story.

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