Children growing up dream about representing their nation in their chosen sport, yet very few get to achieve this. Then you get the special few who represent their nation in more than one sport. Marcelle Manson (Keet) is one of those special few. Marcelle has represented South Africa in both hockey and water polo. She has competed at the FINA World Championships, the FIH Hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth games. Someone so incredible must have an epic story to tell and we sat with the brilliant lady and chatted about all things sport.
Jabu: Hi Marcelle, firstly congratulations on the wedding, we hope you guys have an epic life together! How has the current series been for the preparation for the challenges of 2014?
Marcelle: Hi Jabu! Thanks so much for the mail and the congrats. So far our life has been great 😉 We are looking forward to the rest! On to the hockey, the preparation has been going very well thank you, with every game we are making improvements and working on our structure in preparation for the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. We are in a training process and all these games against Holland, Australia and Belgium have insured that we compete against the best and make sure we concentrate on improving on our focus and specific areas.
Jabu: As someone who has played international sport on more than one stage, an important question is why are you as talented as you are? Is it luck, upbringing or just pure skill?
Marcelle: Thanks for the compliment. I think it’s a good balance of them all I think. I would definitely say however that it has a lot to do with my upbringing, I was surrounded by sports since I was a little girl, being dragged around to sit next to the polo pool and hockey field. My family and husband are great influences in my life and they continue to push me, encourage me, train with me and support me right through my life starting from a little girl, all the way to where I am today.
Marcelle: I have been very fortunate to manage to fit both of my sports, with a little bit of balancing the training and dates. Luckily the dates haven’t clashed which helps too. Water polo is predominately during summer where as hockey runs throughout the year. If you manage your life and plan things properly you can accomplish a lot. I am also very fortunate that both National coaches, Giles Bonnet, Hockey, and Brad Rowe, Water polo, encourage me to play and pursue both my sports, which helps so much.
Jabu: Is it frustrating that the two sports you excel in are not the most financially supported sports in the country?
Marcelle: I play for the pride and not for the financial gain, sure it would be fantastic to be paid and financially supported for doing what you love. At times it is very difficult for us and our sports to keep going, especially since we are not professional, many of us still have to study, get degrees and work full time to financially support ourselves. That being said, just being out there representing my country and being selected ahead of thousands of other girls makes me feel so proud and privileged. No money can pay for that feeling.
Marcelle: It was an absolutely amazing experience, a dream come true. The girls welcomed me as a captain, which was fantastic, and it was great to lead and encourage them. It was actually a tough tournament at the end of it, so it was quite a hair raising task but our job was to qualify for the World Cup and that’s what we did. I was very proud and it was a great achievement for me.
Jabu: Would you want the full time job when Marsha steps down one day?
Marcelle: I would be honoured to Captain the side full time, it will be a huge thing following in Marsha’s footsteps as she is one of the best and most inspiring South African Captains this Country has ever had, but I would happily accept the role and lead with my own flare and style and take it step by step.
Jabu: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Marcelle: Being able to represent my Country at events like the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, competing at the highest level of International sport for both Water polo and Hockey. My ultimate highlight was playing alongside my two sisters, Lee-Anne and Samantha at the FINA World Champs Water polo in Rome, along with my husband playing and captaining for South Africa men’s water polo team. That was very special to me.
Marcelle: It was always a dream to reach 100 caps, my career has been quite a long one, starting in 2005 all the way till here. At one point I did not think it was going to be possible. But through the support of friends and family, I made sure I was never going to give up and keep striving for my dream as long as my legs could keep running 😉
Jabu: Okay, now that you are married, how does Bevan cope with the travelling that you have to do?
Marcelle: I am very lucky to have married such a supportive and encouraging man, he has also represented his country and travelled the world in his sports and still travels now coaching the SA junior ladies water polo teams. He knows what it takes to be an athlete and understands the sacrifices that have to be made. He is very understanding and we make it work.
Jabu: Having played at the World Cup and the Commonwealth games, how badly do you want to play at Rio in 2016?
Marcelle: That has been the elusive goal that, ever since I was a girl, I have been dreaming about. I have come so close and due to unforeseen circumstances have not been able to achieve it. As I said previously as long as my legs are running and my heart is in it and I’m loving what I am doing I will keep trying to achieve it.
Marcelle: I enjoy playing golf with my husband, I haven’t perfected it but can see myself enjoying it later on in life. I love paddling surf ski socially with my husband and father, however the competitive nature always seems to come out somehow and we land up racing! But I enjoy all sports and when we have off from hockey and polo I enjoy watching them mostly on TV/
Jabu: If you could give youngsters some advice, what would it be?
Marcelle: My advice to youngsters would be. Find a dream or make a goal or strive for something in your life that you really love. No matter what happens in your journey, keep going and never give up. Surround yourself with a good support base of good people, family and friends. Don’t wait for others to push you or your coach to, if you really want something so bad, work hard for it, don’t wait for it, go out and get it. At the end of the day it’s about how badly you want it
Jabu: Where can our readers find out some more about you and all you are up to?
Marcelle: They can catch me on:
Twitter – mkeet10 (they can search Marcelle Manson)
Facebook page – Marcelle Keet SA Ladies Hockey and Water polo player
Instagram – mkeet10