Watching her play, is inspiring beyond words. The affable, and upbeat Dirkie Chamberlain who has capped an impressive 225 caps for South Africa, has done what athletes can only dream of.
She is a 1x Olympian, played 4 World Cups, 3 Commonwealth Games, and has been on top of the hockey world for 13 years (since her first World Cup appearance in 2006 in Spain) and is still raring to go.
Dirkie, who currently plays at the Holcombe Hockey Club, has also played various European leagues; with clubs including Kampong (Dutch Hoofdklasse), Canterbury HC (Investec English Premier League) and Gantoise HC (Belgium Honour Division).
As a part of our March Womens Month #AbsoluteInspiration series, we interviewed Dirkie in order to find out what skills, routines, and habits have helped her to become a world-class hockey player, the role her mother had in her life, how she repeatedly unlocks her best performances, and how she stays grounded.
At what age did you start playing hockey?
I started playing hockey at the age of 13, when i joined High School. In South Africa, this is your first year in High School.
How did you become interested in playing hockey?
Well, i actually had never heard of the sport before going to High School, but there i saw all my school friends playing, so I wanted to get involved and spend time doing things we could do together.
What do you do apart from playing hockey ?
I currently play Club Hockey in England for the Holcombe Hockey Club in the Premier League.
I am the Performance Director at the Teddington Hockey Club and oversee the Ladies section. I am also the Head Coach of the Ladies 1’s there.
What has been your most career-defining moment that you are proud of?
Undeniably, becoming an Olympian, being able to share the biggest sporting stage with some of the World’s most incredible Athletes.
What do you think we should be doing to encourage more girls to consider a career in hockey ?
What girls really need, is the opportunity to be made aware of ‘Hockey as a Career’ and the great experiences and rewards it can bring to their life.
When they are made to see the positive effects, it has on the the lives of current internationals or role models, then it can plant a seed for them to start dreaming and setting goals.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
It has to be my Mother. My mother has had a huge impact on my life. She has shown me numerous times how to over come setbacks and deal with the hardships, that life sometimes throws at you.
My mom never had the opportunities and support I had, yet she made a wonderful life for herself, raised me to be what I am, and helped me achieved what I have.
She could have chosen to succumb to the challenges, but she fought her way through and rose above, to be able to give me the opportunities and life I have today.
I am thankful, i am able to live a life, she can be very proud of.
Your favourite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life
‘I never lose. I either win or I learn’ — by the one and only Nelson Mandela. I like this because, it is the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life.
Everything happens for a reason and it’s just about your perspective on the matter, whether it gets you down or makes you a better person. Ultimately, It’s your choice.
One piece of fitness training advice you would give any women hockey player?
I always say this, Pre-hab is always better than rehab. Make sure your muscles stay robust and strong so that you don’t get injured.
Hockey is tough on the body, so make sure you look after it. Don’t skip warm up, cool down and stretching. In the long run it can make a massive difference.
What are your favourite books, websites, films and resources?
I find a lot of solace in reading autobiographies of Athletes or Celebrities.
My favourite films are Coach Carter, The Blind side and Lilo & Stitch.
I also love shopping, so i would say my favourite websites would be an online shopping website. I must mention, that I really enjoy keeping up with fitness trends on Instagram. I consider it as a best resource for up-to-date content.
Tennis superstar Roger Federer. I am very inspired by what he has achieved, the titles won, coming back from injuries and still managing to get to the top spot of the world and still winning the biggest tournaments in the world. That man, never stops improvising.