Paton wades into his hockey career

2013-09-05 00:00

WADE Paton (27) has been playing hockey for most of his life, despite the sport being a poor relative to cricket, rugby and soccer in South Africa.

Having started at Glenashley Senior Primary School, Paton played the game throughout his high school years at Northwood, including a post-matric year at Maritzburg College.

“My highlight was being selected for the SA Schools side that played against Australia in Pietermaritzburg,” said Paton. “I always enjoyed hockey and it was exciting to start on grass and move through to astro. Currently playing at Riverside in Durban North has enhanced my career and added a new dimension to my game.”

Paton has been with the Super League champions for the past two years, great years that have seen the men’s first team win back-to-back titles.

“This is a definite highlight for me, being unbeaten indoor and outdoor league champions for two successive years,” said Paton. “Winning the Riverside Hockey Elite Club Challenge — where the top club sides from each province played — was another highlight, confirming our status as perhaps the country’s top club side.”

Since 2007, Paton has been a member of the South African side and believes the team could be a world powerhouse if proper funding were received.

“Hockey is seen as one of the smaller sports in South Africa and while we compete with the world’s best, there is never much confidence from people that we will do well,” he said.

“It’s a pity as we have a wealth of talented players coming through school and club levels. If we could have the financial support the bigger sports enjoy, it would bolster the game and be a sport worth pursuing at professional level.”

Paton can voice his thoughts, having played in Belgium for three seasons at Gantosie Hockey Club. “The game is definitely different overseas. It is professionally run and allows players to make a living from it.

“The European structures are much more defence oriented, giving teams a great base from which to launch their attacking options.”

With this in mind, Paton offers sound advice to players wishing to take their game further, to national level and more. “Yes, there is not much on offer in South Africa as a hockey player, but there are opportunities in Europe. The key is to remain positive, work hard at your game and try to get a contract at an overseas club,” he said.

“That is the way to go and playing overseas is a great proving ground, making players tougher and more skilful. National selection is still possible, and I am a firm advocate that overseas experience can only improve your game.”

Paton Lifestyle

• Music — Indie, anything alternative

• Food — Sushi

• Movies — Thrillers

• Reading — As often as possible. Currently reading Fearless by Eric Blehm.

• Other sport — Enjoys trail running and started paddling. Enjoys a challenge.

• Drink — Prefers beer, especially what’s offered in Europe. Wine demands an occasion.

• Doesn’t play any musical instrument and not a great singer.

• Has just started yoga, which is helping with mobility and agility.

• No specific role model but admires people who sacrifice all to achieve greatness.

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