Smith con­tin­ues fam­ily sport tra­di­tion

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

Belinda Smith is a hockey player through and through.

She’s third gen­er­a­tion - both her par­ents and her grand­fa­ther were avid play­ers in their time.

The 25-year-old One­hunga res­i­dent is also loyal to Som­merville Hockey, a club which her fam­ily has played in for many years.

On Septem­ber 17, Smith earned her 100th cap for the Auck­land Na­tional League team af­ter de­but­ing in 2009.

‘‘Play­ing at that level is an emo­tional roller coaster,’ she says.

‘‘It felt re­ally spe­cial to get through all that I have and get to play my 100th cap.

‘‘It’s been about 20 years since I started play­ing hockey...in no way was it pushed on me but it did seem to click straight away.

‘‘I tried ev­ery sport un­der the sun but al­ways en­joyed play­ing hockey.

‘‘Be­ing a team sport means you get to play, learn, and ex­pe­ri­ence the sport with oth­ers.

‘‘It is also a game that is for­ever chang­ing and ev­ery game re­quires a new game plan, it keeps you on your toes men­tally and es­pe­cially phys­i­cally. The con­stant chal­lenge drives me.’’

She started off as striker like her fa­ther but is now com­fort­able as a de­fender on the turf.

‘‘I think my com­pet­i­tive­ness, de­sire to learn, stay as fit as I can and be a part of a team that wants to suc­ceed has meant I have been around for a while now.

‘‘Ev­ery year is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team which means it is an en­tirely new ex­pe­ri­ence - it is never re­peated.

‘‘I think when it be­comes some­thing that doesn’t ex­cite or drive me I will stop but un­til then I will con­tinue to en­joy ev­ery cam­paign.’’

Smith has been a part of the New Zealand Black Sticks de­vel­op­ment side for four years.

She re­cently re­turned from play­ing pre­mier league in Eng­land for the Read­ing Hockey Club.

‘‘I would love to play as long as I can and as long as I feel that I am up to the chal­lenge.

‘‘Even if I only con­tinue to play club but I will also al­ways put ev­ery­thing to­wards the Auck­land side.

She says hockey is the best sport she’s ever played.

‘‘It is so im­por­tant for kids of any age to at least get to try hockey. It is so sim­i­lar to other sports but it is of­ten for­got­ten.

It is team-ori­ented, fast paced and re­ally gets you us­ing your brain.’’

PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT

Belinda Smith, with ball, earned her 100th cap for the Auck­land hockey side this month.

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