MARK KNOWLES –
I owe hockey more than I could ever repay.
15 years, 4x Olympic Games, 2 World Cups Gold medals, 3 Commonwealth Games Gold medals, the Kookaburra captaincy – and my love for the sport burns stronger today than it did in January 2004 when I first represented Australia at the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia.
I remember early in my career I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be really good at hockey, thus putting absolutely everything I could at the time into laying the building blocks of my foundations.
And how could I not; as a young adult I had an opportunity to travel the world and compete professionally against the best in the sport.
Hockey allowed me to put absolutely everything into my body; from recovery to nutrition and performance.
I made a conscious effort that at every turn I would be as professional as I could be, leaving no stone unturned.
Over the past couple of years though, I have found having a family has provided me with a lot better balance, balance I didn’t have in the mid-stage in my career.
Of course, much of that comes with experience, but it also comes down to understanding what’s required at difference times.
Now settled into my thirties, I see myself as a custodian of the sport; I understand there always has to be a transition plan in place, and I didn’t want to leave it until I was finished to have this creep up on me.
Since around 2014, I’ve put a really strong emphasis on doing things to better me as a person, not just as an athlete.
As much as I would like too, unfortunately I can’t play hockey my entire life. Thankfully, I do have passions outside of wearing shin guards.
I’m really enjoying my ambassador roles and working with the sport’s various community engagement projects.
Most notably though, I’m working duel roles as a Personal Development Advisor at the Queensland Academy of Sport and as the Coach & Player Development Officer of my local hockey club in Brisbane, Eastern Suburbs HC
I get to work with athletes on their journey and well-being, and what’s required to be an elite athlete as well as help develop young hockey players, improve coaching and interact with schools and sponsors.
I love this part of my life at the moment, where my kids understand who I am and what I do.
My boys are hockey fanatics who have the hockey players posters on the walls and know all the Kookaburras players, but it’s also given me a really good direction and life balance, which has probably made me a happier athlete.