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.

Australia's Daniel Beale (C) celebrates a goal with teammate Mark Knowles (R) during the men's field hockey Britain vs Australia match of the Rio 2016 Olympics Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Rio de Janeiro on August, 10 2016. / AFP / Carl DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia’s Daniel Beale (C) celebrates a goal with teammate Mark Knowles (R) during the men’s field hockey Britain vs Australia match of the Rio 2016 Olympics Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Rio de Janeiro on August, 10 2016. / AFP / Carl DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

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.