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Meet Le-Neal Jackson – South African Men’s Hockey Team Player

The Commonwealth Games are fast approaching. To mark this special occasion we will be posting daily interviews with members of the South African Men’s Hockey Team. We had the pleasure of meeting the team whilst they stayed at Mill Hill School ahead of the Games.

Today’s interview is with defender Le-Neal Jackson. It was wonderful to find out more about him and his hockey career!

What position do you play in the team? 

I would like to start off by saying that it is an honour to represent my country.

I am currently playing as a defender. I have played in a variety of positions throughout my career. I started off as a striker, moved to midfield and eventually became a defender. It has been a pleasure to gain experience in a range of positions on the pitch.

How did you get into Hockey and how long have you been playing?

I started playing hockey in 2003 so I have been playing for over nineteen years! I got into the sport through my family. Everyone around me played hockey and I really enjoyed getting involved. I was delighted to be selected for the South African Junior Hockey Team at a young age and gain even more experience. There have been ups and downs during my career due to injury but I have never given up on my dream and it is a pleasure to play for South Africa. 

Could you tell us about your training regime?

In general, we are given training routines from our sports and conditioning coaches. These involve a mixture of different exercises and activities. We do a sessions in the gym and hockey training on the pitch. I really enjoy going to the gym. Playing hockey can be very strenuous if you are not properly conditioned; a good training regime allows me to hit the ball further and perform better overall. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love watching movies and series! I particularly enjoy crime documentaries and CSI investigations. I also like spending time with my family and friends. I live close to a beach so it’s great when we can head down there together.

In my spare time I also coach hockey at a local academy. I feel that it is really important to give back to my sport and community because it has given me so much. 

Is this your first visit to The UK and how are you finding London? 

This is my second time in the UK. I came here about three weeks ago to play in a Pro League game at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. 

Everyone I have met here has been really friendly and the food is great! I am very focused on the hockey side of things at the moment. I must come back to visit more places and pick up some souvenirs! 

What would you like to achieve for your team?

Being a part of this team is incredible so I truly want the best for us; I want to contribute as much as possible both on and off the pitch. This involves spending time with the team and throwing myself into training, conditioning and match play analysis. This will ensure that I can perform at the highest level possible.

What is your dream?

From a sporting perspective, my dream is to pursue hockey for as long as possible. More personally, my family is really important to me. I want to support my loved ones and have my own family one day. 

Do you have any advice for our pupils, especially those who may want to go into professional sports?

Pursue your dream and never give up. If someone says that you can’t do something, remember that there might be ups and downs but with the right people around you anything is possible.