I’m someone who’s extremely competitive and has a lot of energy, so for me, sports provided an outlet. I wouldn’t say I only love winning per se but rather the process – honing a craft; the little milestones in between personal goals and team goals; the ability to fall and come back again the next day; seeing daily, monthly, or seasonal improvements. I have always believed that the best person to compare yourself to today, is the person you were yesterday. And of course, practice, practice, practice! Hockey is one of those sports that not only encompasses the ‘process’ and skill, but by design it is a cerebral game. Each game has an overarching story of where there are subplots in attack, midfield, and defence, strategy and so on. It’s all very tactical, and I very much enjoy that side of the game.
I started playing hockey when I was about ten but I got more serious with it when I went to high school and was selected to play for the Zimbabwe U21 National team at the Junior World Cup. I wanted to go to a university in the USA on a sports scholarship, but to apply I needed to submit enough video clips of me playing hockey. In Zimbabwe, an under-18 hockey tournament for girls called Golden Girls has been held each year since the 1980 Zimbabwe women’s hockey team won Olympic gold. When I was in lower sixth year, my high school team had reached the finals of Golden Girls Tournament to be held on home turf – my high school. Hundreds of people were expected to attend. This would be the perfect opportunity to get those needed clips, I thought. We were a good team and were tipped to win.
We didn’t win Golden Girls that year. The loss was bittersweet because despite losing to the better team, there were many individual victories within the team, as well as personal goals achieved. But more importantly it was then that I realised the importance of doing my best as an individual within a team framework – it would become contagious and giving 100% would spread throughout the team. It’s probably the first time that I realised that my energy was infectious and that I needed to focus on channelling that energy to be positive force for good, but also that I feed off the energy of others too. I also realised I didn’t hate losing as much as people thought I did!