Up-Close with Fabian Gregory today, proudly the Head Coach of the SA Men’s Hockey Team. He descends from a long and rich history of coaching and teaching, working with SA’s precious youth in sports and also through education. If you want to see the deep and inner spirit of a game, watch its players along with its coach. The coach bravely lays down his life for the players and the game, and he stands right up front in the line of fire to defend his team. He will rejoice and celebrate even a distance from the field, but his heart will be made clear by his actions in the booth. Fabian’s courage and commitment to putting the team first has earned him many accolades in the sports arena. No wonder his nick name is SuperFaya! A shout out to go and watch and support our SA National Hockey Team on 23 October as participate in the African Cup, which doubles as an Olympic qualifier – all the best boys!!! It will take place 23 October to 1 November. Lets go Team SA!
Bio / Stats
|Name & Surname||Fabian Gregory|
|Date of birth||02/08/73|
|Place of birth||East London|
|Favorite City||Boston and Amsterdam too difficult to choose|
|Favorite Song/ type of music||Anything upbeat and catchy. I love Maroon 5 and Coldplay|
|Favorite Movie||Facing the Giants and Maya the Bee (enjoyed it with my son) both movies showing what the human spirit is capable of|
|Qualifications (Hockey/ other sports)||I am also an accomplished Level 3 Cricket Coach|
Q: You are proudly the head coach for the SA’s Men’s Hockey Team. You have a long and rich history of coaching and working with SA’s youth also through your vast experience in the Education field. Congrats! Tell me a little bit about your own / personal hockey / sports career / journey up to this point?
I am a teacher and taught for 13 years and I see coaching as an extension of teaching as I am still teaching/coaching players/youth. I achieved quite a lot in my own sports career but I feel my greatest achievements have been as a coach, simply because of the growth I have seen in players as well as the sense of accomplishment on player’s faces when they master skills or achieving individually and as a team. I will probably stay in coaching for a very long time but would like to invest more time at junior levels as I believe that this is the area that the biggest improvement can be made in technical skills.
Q: What was the last “big / important match” that the team played? What are your observations about these matches? Lessons learned?
We played in the world league 2 event in Cape Town in March and we finished a disappointing 4th. This was very hard to accept as we were the highest ranked team at the event. Major lesson learnt for me and the team was that we had to take more responsibility and be accountable for our actions on and off the field. Current mantra for me and the team is “the man in the mirror”
Q: What is your next big / important match / tournament coming up?
We have the African Cup coming up next month in Johannesburg which is also our Olympic qualifier.
Q: What is your motto as a leader of the Team and in general?
We all have a specific role and it is important that people/players are given room to grow and develop in this specific sphere. With this comes responsibility and accountability. Players enjoy the freedom to express themselves but shy away from accepting responsibility for their actions.
Q: What is your favorite part about coaching?
Seeing players grow not only in hockey but as people. Sport has the ability to grow people in a number of spheres. The interaction between coach and player is also a special relationship. As coach because of this interaction I also learn a lot about myself as a coach and the players I work with.
Q: Are you all work and no play with your hockey squad?
The players will say yes I am but I think there must be a balance with regard to rest and being able to recharge the batteries.
Q: If you could change a rule in Hockey, what would it be?
For me the penalty corner attack has too big an influence in matches.
Q: Besides your professional work as a coach – what do you have a passion for?
I am a sports fanatic and am very competitive. I am a true and proudly South African supporter. Myself I enjoy running and gym. For relaxation its golf but even there it’s a battle to win and get my handicap to a single figure.
Q: Tell me about what you like to do to relax?
Spending time with my son as he shows ability for sport at a very young age, golf and reading which I don’t do enough of.
Q: What word of motivation / tips do you have for young athletes?
Watch as much international hockey as possible and learn from it. Good international players are able to execute basic skills at speed and make good decisions in pressured situations. There are no short cuts so work hard all the time as it is about choices.
Q: When an athlete / team hits some “hard / difficult patch in their sports career, what advice can you give them in this regard?
Focus on the basic skills. In life things will go wrong but it’s important to focus on the small things that make big impact. The difference in sport is about doing the small things well and quicker than everybody else. Basic skills are the starting point and remain in focus when things are not going well. Hard or tough patches are just there to test your mental strength and your character. Your true strength will push you through this period.
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
Rereading a book called the winner within, the coach and raising talent.
Thank you so much Coach for taking this interview and for all that you do for our Precious Youth. We would like to wish you all the best for the future and for your plans ahead. Blessings!