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Up Close with Chad Burke

Chad Burke, brilliant hockey player and academic really inspired me so deeply in this interview. A young man with profound integrity, solid core values and passionate about his sport, his community, his SA Nation, his family and his friends.  A deep thinker and thought leader, he is grateful and powerful in what he does on and off the field. Proudly one of SA’s sons with rooted purpose and intent make a things better for the future.

He says  “The person I am today was really shaped by my father, who enforced strict discipline onto me from a very young age. Any top sportsman needs discipline and a clear set of values which distinguishes what is right and wrong”.  Furthermore ” I would like to be characterized in the future as someone who is passionate about what I do, someone who is hard-working, someone who is a role-model, and someone who leaves a positive impact in whatever I do’.

Senior Mens IPT 2015


Athlete: Bio / Stats

Name & Surname Chad Burke
Nick Name The Chad
Date of birth 1994/01/21
Place of birth Uitenhage, Eastern Cape
Current City Johannesburg
Height 1.74m
Weight 68kg
Shoe Size 8-10
Club University of Johannesburg
Coach’s Name Garreth Ewing
Secondary Sport/ sports Football, Cricket
Favorite City Cape Town
Favorite Song/ type of music Deep tech house, hip hop
Favorite Movie Coach Carter
Tertiary Inst Name/ Year University of Johannesburg – Third year
Tertiary degree/ diploma B.Com Intrapreneurship (Corporate Entrepreneurship)
Sponsors Currently negotiating
Twitter and Instagram Twitter and Instagram: @chadshane/chadshane
Parents Names, siblings Nicole and Sean. No siblings
USSA 2015, representing the University of Johannesburg

USSA 2015, representing the University of Johannesburg


Q: You are passionate and doing so well in your ­­­­­­­­Hockey, tell me a little bit about how you started in Hockey, and your journey up to now?

I’ve always been passionate about sport, and this started from a very young age. I was already playing competitive club cricket at the age of 7 against 9 year olds, where there is quite a vast developmental difference at those ages. I was also playing football during that period and those were my two favourite sports at that stage. I started playing hockey in grade 4 (age 10) after I saw one of the grade 7 boys (Brynn Cleak) playing it. At that stage, I had never heard of hockey before, and had no idea how it was even played. I watched a bit of Brynn playing at our school’s senior interhouse competition on that same day, and decided to give it a go the following day in the junior interhouse competition. Funny enough, Brynn and I eventually ended up playing together at UJ for the last three years. I originally played as a forward because I played in that position in football, and managed to score 5 goals in my first ever game playing hockey. I enjoyed the technical skill, pace, and similarities between football and hockey, and decided to pursue hockey as my third sport at that point. By the following year, I had made the district team. And the year after that, I made a provincial team. I was also ranked 3rd in the school for tennis and was the 2nd quickest in athletics, and I think the fact that sport came so naturally to me made the progression into hockey a seamless process.

 Q: What is the highest accolade that you have achieved in Hockey, and what is your greatest personal accomplishment?

The highest accolade I’ve achieved in hockey is being a part of the UJ side that won the first installment of Men’s Varsity Cup Hockey Competition in 2014. Although I had played in the Southern Gauteng U21A side for three years, my highest/greatest accomplishment was playing in my first Senior Men’s provincial tournament in 2015, while still carrying the hip injury which eventually had to be operated on.

Chad with the Men’s University of Johannesburg Hockey Team - Varsity Hockey Champions 2014

Chad with the Men’s University of Johannesburg Hockey Team – Varsity Hockey Champions 2014

Q: Who are you? Describe yourself as a person.

I would describe myself as a passive person who mostly expresses myself on the sports field, in an environment where I am able to be more assertive. I am someone who values friendship, which is why I think I have always enjoyed team sports, where everyone is driven towards a common goal. I am someone who enjoys being around people, but also enjoys being on my own. And in most facets of my life, I try and look for a balance. I am someone who is driven and motivated to be at the top, and would more than anything – love to give back to my parents one day. Although I know I could never repay them for all that they have done for me, my aim is to try and give back as much as I possibly can.

 Q: You have just hit a difficult patch in their sports career, would you like to share a bit? What advice can you give other young athletes in this regard?

The last 12 months in my sporting career has certainly been the toughest up to date. It has been a period riddled by frustration, confusion, physical pain, as well as exercising a lot of patience. The fact that I visited various medical institutions without getting a very transparent answer about what was wrong, and instead – speculating on my injury, was very frustrating for me. The moment I discovered what my injury was, was bittersweet, as I finally had a definitive answer, but I was also worried because of the complexity of the operation, the cost of the operation, as well as the amount of time spent away from the astro turf. A bilateral FAI hip operation is a very complex operation in which I spent 4 and a half hours in theatre. It has been a very steep uphill journey, but one month into my recovery – I could finally see light at the end of the tunnel. The advice that I would give young sportsmen is to look after themselves in the best way possible, and to not take their time on the sports field for granted. Although some injuries aren’t avoidable (like mine) due to body composition, bone structure etc, there are potential injuries that can be avoided by proper stretching, managing your weight, correct exercising and breathing techniques, and understanding your limits. One never knows when it will be one’s last game, so my advice would be to not take one’s time on the sports field for granted, and realise how lucky one is to be doing the thing that one loves.

Q: In your opinion, how do you define success / greatness in life?

The topic of how success is defined is broad and can be interpreted in various ways by different people. Of course – to be the best in the world at something, or to break world records and win Olympic medals, or to own a business can be defined as success, but my definition of success/greatness is how someone is remembered and the long lasting impact that someone can have on people once he/she is no longer here. If people use/refer to your methods, characteristics, style, innovations etc in any facet of life, then you have left a lasting impact in the lives of others, and that is my definition of success.

USSA 2015, representing the University of Johannesburg

USSA 2015, representing the University of Johannesburg

Q: What do you do to relax?

Because of my club hockey, fitness sessions and compulsory gym sessions, provincial hockey, the various tournaments, coaching, as well as my studies, I often tend to experience burnout throughout the year. To relax, I mostly spend time with family and friends – those who I value the most, and can sit and talk to. My relaxation can be as simple as laying on the coach watching series, or downloading music, and can be best described as downtime. However, during the season there isn’t a lot of time available for relaxation or downtime, so I try and take advantage of it whenever I can.

Q: Tell me one thing about yourself that the world does not know 🙂?

Besides sports and studies, my goal is to travel and see as much of the world/ earth as I possibly can.

 Q: What was the best advice you were ever given?

The best advice I’ve been given was on the topic of self-discipline. Self-discipline is about putting in the extra hours by yourself and going that extra mile in order to perfect your skills and be better than your peers. It is about looking after yourself and your body, and putting in as much interest, research, additional skills and training, and effort into your field of work. The thing about self-discipline is that only you can control it and are responsible for it. Therefore, where you want to end up what you want to achieve is all in your own hands. Along with all the personal characteristics that can make someone successful, I think that self-discipline is by far the most important.

Q: What is your personal favourite motivational quote?

“A key to success is playing the hand you were dealt like it was the hand you wanted.”

 Q: What’s your WHY ?  

The reason I play hockey is because I love the sport, and sports in general. The thing that sets hockey apart from most sports is the speed at which it is played, and the speed at which the ball moves along with the intensity of the players – especially at the highest levels. My motivating factors are to play for my country one day, as well as play overseas professionally. I would like to see more focus and interest in hockey from those in power in South African sport. I would like South Africa to be a place where hockey can be pursued as a career, where players don’t have to pay for camps and travelling costs, and where a professional league is developed in order for SA players to thrive. My impact on the SA youth through my coaching and passion for the sport, is to encourage and ensure that as many of these youngsters pursue hockey after their completion of high school, and to not just quit or pursue other sports like most of these players do. I would also like to contribute to the development of hockey one day, whether it be a monetary contribution, my personal expertise, or in underprivileged communities where young kids aren’t exposed to hockey. There is a lot of undiscovered talent in South Africa, and not just in the suburbs or areas where astro turfs are available. I hope to discover these talents one day once I am done playing hockey, and hope to push these players to the highest possible level.

Coaching the Northcliff High School U15A boy’s hockey team

Coaching the Northcliff High School U15A boy’s hockey team

Thank you so much for taking this interview. We would like to wish you all the best for your journey ahead. We look forward to following you as you go from strength to strength. Blessings!


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