University of Johannesburg hockey star Kristen Paton is looking forward to taking aboard some valuable lessons after being chosen for the national side to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
After making her national debut last year, the 21-year-old midfielder said she was delighted to get exposure at the one of the biggest multi-sport events in the world.
“It’s a platform to compete with some of the best athletes in the world,” she said.
“I also enjoy multi-sport events because you’re exposed to other disciplines but in an environment with like-minded people that allows you to perform and provides everything that you may need.”
Having made the Games squad, Paton said she was also looking ahead to the World Cup later this year.
“I’m never really satisfied, so I’d love to attend that and make it a picture-perfect year.
“The Olympics is another goal but I’m just taking it one step at a time.”
She added she was somewhat taken aback at her selection for the Commonwealth Games, feeling her inexperience might count against her.
“In all honesty I was really surprised about my selection and am still in awe,” said Paton, who lives in Melville in Johannesburg.
Introduced to hockey at Constantia Kloof Primary in Johannesburg in Grade 3, Paton said she quickly developed a passion for the game.
“I didn’t really know anyone so my teacher gave me her hockey bag and stick and convinced me to play hockey,” she recalled.
“I fell in love immediately and drove my mom crazy using items in the house as beacons and our lounge as an astroturf.”
“It wasn’t until Grade 10 [at Northcliff High] that things started picking up and I made my first provincial team.”
Besides a number of coaches who had collectively shaped her game, Paton said her family had played a huge role.
“They have encouraged me when disappointment strikes and always been the voice that pushes me to keep going”.