Mark Knowles is the 2014 FIH Player of the Year and on of the most important pieces of the Australian team. In this interview, conducted by the website Self-Pass, we can read about his beginnings in the sport and what the future might look like for him.
What is the story of Mark Knowles?
Grew up in Rockhampton, a country town of 70,000 in Central Queensland. Both parents and family all played hockey from a young age. Moved to Perth in 2003 after being selected in the Kookaburras squad and have been here ever since. Played 5 seasons in Hockey Club Rotterdam and 3 seasons with HIL in Punjab Warriors. Hockey is my job and my passion.
Who are you outside the field?
Married for 5 years with 2 beautiful boys. I also run hockey coaching clinics and do motivation speaking. I love all sports, coffee and family time.
Things you do not like to do?
Unpack my suitcase after a long trip away and share the remote control.
Who is your role model and why?
My dad – hardest worker I know and a hockey lover. He coached me during my junior hockey.
You are one of the iconic players from a very powerful Australia, what does it take to be a Kookaburra?
It’s starts with a desire from a young age. Then work hard, train hard, commit to trainings and focus and years later you may be selected into the large Kookaburra development squad. From there, it’s all about continually trying to improve yourself with fitness, skill, committment and mental strength.
What is the current moment of Australian national team?
We are currently preparing for the Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia with our bigger focus being on the World League semi final tournament in Belgium mid year.
In general, what would you change in hockey or how would you like to see hockey heading as global sport?
Would love to see the sport on TV more. I’m not sure how to do this. But if it were on TV, sponsors then come on board and that means money and the opportunity for teams/countries to be fully professional without having other focuses of work.
In your career which teammate did you admire the most and the best opponent you played against?
My teammates were Bevan George and Jamie Dwyer. I based my defensive work and leadership from Bevan and Jamie in terms of outright skills.
Best opponent would be Teun de Nooijer for his longevity in the game and amazing skills and speed.
What’s next in your playing career, how will you prepare yourself for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro?
Everything I do over the next 18 months is somehow preparing me for Rio. I will strive to improve and hopefully play at a higher level than I have before. Hopefully over the next 500 days my leadership skills continue to motivate my teammates.
With your playing style and leadership skills, you look like a ‘coach inside the field’, what is the next step when you stop playing?
People often tell me I would be a good coach after hockey. I’m not sure I can continue to travel so much like we do now (4-5 months away a year) with such a young family. But I do understand these may be opportunities that will become more apparent once I retire.
I would love to own a cafe one day too 🙂
As big fan of the English football club Manchester United, what would you share from your high performance experience in a speech for ManUtd squad?
Firstly, if I were in the presence of Man Utd players and coaches, I would not be able to speak I’d be so nervous!
The only advice I could give, would be to leave your ego at the door. Everyone is equal in a team and everyone has to work together, not alone, to win. And… can you please sign my shirt!
Any plans to return to Europe soon after 2016 Olympics?
I don’t think so. As much as I love it over there and my wife misses it too! With two children we need to think about their schooling and settling down.
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