Feature | SPORTS

Women In Sports: Hockey Keeps Astral Powering On

Astral Smith is passionate about hockey. Despite the odds, the former national rep will always have hockey as her first choice should she be given a pitch to play in.
25 Jan 2020 17:20
Women In Sports: Hockey Keeps Astral Powering On
Astral Smith with her husband Alsace.

Astral Smith is passionate about hockey.

Despite the odds, the former national rep will always have hockey as her first choice should she be given a pitch to play in.

Smith made a comeback in 2012 after being dropped from the Fiji women’s team which toured India.

“I felt like I missed out on the biggest moment in my playing career,” she said.

“I was shattered and literally cried myself to sleep.

“But the very next morning, I went training to support my friends who did make the team and to see where I lacked and needed to become better. “

In 2014, she was able to make the Fiji team.

“I felt like I proved and bettered myself,” Smith added.

Education

Originally from Nasoso, Nadi, Smith began her primary education at the Nadi Airport School.

Her break into hockey came when she was attending Swami Vivekananda College.

“It was the first time for the school to participate and we made the finals in the secondary schools competition that year,” she said.

“Unfortunately we lost to reigning champions at that time, St. Joseph’s Secondary School, but it was a good experience.”

Smith graduated from the Fiji National University with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in business management/minor human industrial management.

She is currently the assistant manager at the Suva Bowling Club.

Balance work and career

With the support from club, she balances her hockey career and her work.

“I have had a range of jobs before and have been lucky enough to have leaders that supported me in hockey, whether it was for tournaments, training or overseas competitions,” she said.

Astral Smith (right) with staff of the Fiji Hockey.

Astral Smith (right) with staff of the Fiji Hockey.

Driving force

A driving force in her life is her mother, Fantasha.

“She constantly reminds me not to settle for anything less than my potential and that my world is much bigger than what people may think of me,” Smith added.

Hockey being a minor sport, she considers herself lucky to have a group of friends who supported her.

“Hockey is a minority sport in Fiji, and being a woman makes the disadvantage greater,” she added.

“I am blessed to have many amazing friends, especially in the Ventures Hockey Club- we are constantly reminded to rise to the occasion and to come out harder and stronger each time.”

One of the memorable moments was when she was selected to be the Fiji women’s hockey team manager last year during the Japan tour.

“Although it was such a huge and stressful task, I would not trade the experience for any other and would do everything the exact same way,” Smith said.

“Our women who won gold medals have not been duly recognised in events like the Fiji Sports Awards.

“These are just the few I have witnessed. I can’t imagine the list of missed opportunities before my time! Let alone in any other sport!

Contribution to hockey

Smith has contributed to the sport not as a player but also by officiating and administration of the sport.

She is also helping in the revival of the Suva Kaji League.

“I have helped co-ordinate the Suva League and help officiate at Fiji Hockey- sanctioned tournament,” she said.

“I’ve since received my accreditation to serve as a technical official at an international tournament and I’m awaiting the opportunity.”

Smith believes that the sport could be salvaged.

“Many schools have removed hockey from the curriculum as it has been deemed a “dangerous sport”,” she said.

“We are hoping to start an after school and weekend programme to get our Kaji level comp up to par to feed into club level.

“This takes a lot of funding, and hard work and we hope to get all the assistance we possibly can to kick-start this.”

Smith got married in April, 2019 and has a 3-year old daughter.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: karalaini.tavi@fijisun.com.fj

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