All good things must come to an end.

And it has been one hell of a ride!

Nearly 15 years in the game and as the days near closer to my last hoorah with the boys, I’m finding myself reflecting on my career more and more.

In general, I am quite a very reflective person; I think a lot about the game and the person who I want to be and how I conduct myself.

I reflect back quite a lot on my family and how supportive they have been for such a long period of time.

I think as you get older, and you feel that the end is coming, you do start to appreciate everything that comes from the sport.

These past 18 months have probably been the most enjoyable, simply because you do start to appreciate everything so much more.

Since I made the announcement to retire, I’ve felt much more relaxed about being around my teammates and them knowing what the future looks like for me.

I made a decision about four weeks before I told anyone and that was a really uncomfortable time for me.

It’s not in my nature to hold back from the guys, given we are such a close-knit group.

Mark Knowles Exclusive Insight

I knew it would come out at some stage, and I was focused on making sure everyone was aware before the Commonwealth Games, simply because it is as much for those guys to know that I won’t be there after the games.

And for Hockey Australia to be able to plan for the future in their search for a new Kookaburras captain.

As a whole, I feel really good about the decision; the better we play and the more I am around this group, I feel like it’s the right time and I feel like they are well and truly ready to move on without me.

I also feel that in myself I’m ready for a change in my life and where I go and what I do.

It’s definitely sad; hockey has been such a big part of my life for so long but it’s also pretty exciting to be able to see my kids in the morning when they wake up and when they come home from school.

To be able to tuck them into bed, which I can’t do regularly due to training commitments and travel schedules.

My son Flynn, he’s just turned six and he knows absolutely everything about all of the Kookaburra boys and he’s pretty excited for the Commonwealth Games.

I don’t think he understands I’ll be around a lot more. But he understands that my last game will be on the Gold Coast.

He has his green and gold hat at the ready, and always loves wearing the face paint!

My other son Luca is only three, so it’s hard for him to understand the transition.

But my wife Kelly, she’s had it harder than anyone, especially me – even when I am on the road for long periods of times.

She is feeling quite good about having me around for a little bit more.

So what does it mean to me to leave the game on my own terms? Everything. It means everything.

It is always hard to come to an end date, because I’m still playing really good hockey and there is a World Cup at the end of this year, which made the retirement decision a lot more tricky.

But I just got to a stage where I felt I wasn’t going to be able to do it to my really high standard.

The other thing was when I contemplated stopping after Rio Olympics, one of the messages that my wife and I spoke about was, “We’re moving home to Brisbane next month, how good would it be for you to play in front of your family and friends and the kids on the Gold Coast”.

Mark Knowles exclusive insight commonwealth games

I thought yeah it would be pretty amazing to stop what I love doing and something I’ve been good at on my own terms, when I’m playing well and don’t have any injuries and when I still love the game and still love being part of the team.

There is absolutely no ill feeling or regret, I honestly just felt it was the right time and when I came to the conclusion that it was right, I just felt so good.

It was just a feeling over the last couple of months that was just the hard part because every day I’d say “I can’t wait to just retire”, “I just don’t want to do that anymore”, then the day after I go back to Perth and to a training camp and I’m like “Yeah I love this, why am I stopping”, then the week after I haven’t seen my kids for one morning or one night for a whole week from training and I’m like “Nah, I just don’t need this anymore”.

So it was just a bit of a never ending cycle there for a little while and I really just needed an end point of whether I was going to keep playing or stop.

And I feel now that the decision was absolutely right for me.

There are so many things I would like to be remembered for.

I would think that most people would say that I have the biggest determination and work ethic, I’m very much about the team and always have been.

For me, just getting the best out of my teammates and others is what I feel my strengths have been for a long time.

I would say that most people, myself included, would say I have extracted absolutely every bit of talent, work ethic and commitment out of my body and out of my mind.

To finish like that, when I’m still fit and healthy and when I love the game the way I do now, is a special feeling.

When I told Colin Batch (our coach), that I was retiring, amongst our long conversation where we talked about a range of things, he said “You’re in a pretty situation, where you get to finish when you’re at the peak of your powers. You’re not in decline at all, everybody wants you to keep playing, you don’t feel like you do. You’re fit and healthy and have got a family that supports you the whole time”.

And I just sat back and thought – yeah, he’s right.

I’m experienced and old enough to know you don’t get every fairytale you wanted but I just feel at this Commonwealth Games the way I’m feeling and the way the teams prepared and performing, it’s the right time for me to do this and I just feel really good about it.

I’m fully aware life after hockey is going to be a significant change but I’ve also put in enough preparation to know what awaits.

Best of all my involvement in hockey won’t stop anytime soon.

In 2007 I started a coaching business alongside fellow Kookaburra, Jamie Dwyer, which will now become a key focus of mine.

While I also have a full time role at the Queensland Academy of Sport, working with in the space of professional development so I will be able to keep that link with elite sport.

I’m really excited at the prospect of working a lot closer with emerging young athletes, and helping them towards their own professional career path in sport.

Of course, all of that still has to wait. First, comes the Commonwealth Games, and as I mentioned I couldn’t be more excited.

My message to the guys is that we have really grown significantly in the past three or four months; we’ve gone from a team that was very much emerging and trying to find our structure to finding our identity and now being classed as a top tier nation again.

We’re not where we would like to be in terms of peak performance, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction. We won the

World League finals in the in December and got back to world number #1.

That was the first step in a long journey leading up to Tokyo 2020 for this team. I think for me the message was just that it was really enjoyable when we are connected as we are and we give ourselves the best opportunity to win big matches.

I just love that feeling, going into tournament finals and big games thinking and knowing that your team can win it, if we put in a big performance that we can.

And yes it wasn’t the absolute best teams that were in Malaysia but they are very good and they were good enough to challenge us on any given day so we have to be ready for it.

Bring on the games.