Interview With Leah Kriel From St Anne’s Diocesan College

Leah Kriel, co-captain with Georgina Baker of the St Anne’s Diocesan College’s First X1 Hockey team, is eager to lead their team, the Pietermaritzburg North Regional champs, onto the astro in the Grand Finals of the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge that takes place at St Mary’s DSG, in Durban on July 20 and 21.
The 18-year old shining-star striker, who is currently gearing up for last six months in school, has as string of sporting accolades to her name: She has consistently received colours for hockey for six years since 2014 and has also received her school honours for swimming this year. She has played Provincial A team for hockey since 2015 and this year has represented KZN in swimming. In 2018 she was honoured with the St Anne’s Sports Woman of the Year award.
Her love for hockey began in Grade 3 when she started playing at Laddsworth Primary, and while hockey is a focus, Leah also enjoys her competitive swimming cross-country and soccer.
But what attracts her to the game of hockey? “I enjoy being part of a team and forming special friendships with my fellow team mates,” she says. “Hockey has given me many opportunities to challenge myself and grow as a person.”
The game itself provides great life lessons, and she says that the best advice she has been given by her coaches is: “Don’t focus on your mistakes, always try to improve yourself and never back down from a challenge.”
Significant advice as her team went up against St Mary’s Kloof in last year’s Grand Finals of the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge, having just just come out of a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out against Durban Girls’ College. “Unfortunately we lost in the final but it was a good competitive game,” she recalls.
It is no wonder then that Leah cites tennis star, Roger Federer as her sporting role model. “He has taught me to be humble and to be respectful towards others on and off the field,” she says. “He reminds me about remaining calm during a game and to have a positive mind set all the time. Most importantly he shows that we play sport because we love it.”
Clearly Leah was destined to be “sporty”. “My older brother Jared played hockey for Maritzburg College and for KZN. My dad Lawrence used to play basketball and soccer at University and my mom Karina used to do swimming and athletics at high school,” she says. “Nowadays my family battle it out at the park run. Not competitively though, we just have fun.”
After school Leah would like to eventually work in a people-oriented environment after studying a BSc in Biological Sciences at a University in South Africa. She hopes, though, she will be able to join her brother at TUKS in Pretoria.
When not playing sport, Leah enjoys watching movies and series, listening to music, playing the piano and spending time with friends and family.
“I would like to encourage others at school to enjoy their time as it flies by,” she says. “I would also like to encourage them to make the most of all the amazing opportunities that we get, like this hockey tournament and to appreciate all the work and effort that gets put in to what we have.”
No wonder then she lives by the words: “Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience. When something bad happens to you, you can either let it define you, let if destroy you or you can let it strengthen you.”
St Anne’s Diocesan College joins nine other teams from KZN at the Grand finals including Kokstad College, Epworth School, Crawford La Lucia, Durban Girls’ College, Amanzimtoti High School, Ferrum High School, Wartburg Kirchdorf School, St Mary’s DSG, and Felixton College.
For more info like the tournament’s Facebook page or follow on Instagram.

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