Cape Town - South Africa hockey captain Marsha Cox has announced she will retire from international hockey after 14 years on the world stage.
“After having played more than 300 matches I've decided to call it a day on my international career,” Cox announced after she received a special award at the GSport Awards in Johannesburg on Friday.
Cox, formerly Marescia, made her debut in October 2001 at the age of 18 and has since gone on to represent her country at three Olympic Games and two World Cups, earning over 300 caps.
She has also competed at four Commonwealth Games and was part of the South African team that finished in fourth place at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She has been selected for the International Hockey Federation World XI three times – 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“You never want to walk away from the game but there comes a time in every athlete’s career when they just know that it’s time to step down. I’ve enjoyed an amazing ride as part of a team of true professionals and for that I will always be grateful,” she said.
“I’ve certainly always tried my best, and the teams I’ve played with have always given their all in a very competitive international environment. Now it's time for the next generation of players, and the next captain to have her opportunity to take South Africa to the next level on the world stage.”
The 32-year-old Durban native, who lives in The Netherlands, will also take time off have her first child and will thereafter consider the future of her professional career in the Dutch Premier League in the Netherlands.
Marsha Cox's retirement speech:
In order for me to open the next door of opportunity in my life, I need to close this one as a South African Women’s Hockey player. After 14 years of great experiences, challenges and unforgettable memories I am ready for the next round of opportunities that lie ahead of me.
My career as a SA hockey player and captain has been extremely special. This decision to relinquish my role as a national player was really very difficult, especially when, for most of my life, I lived, breathed and loved this team with all my heart.
Playing my debut in 2001 at the age of 18 was a dream come true and every minute on the field in green and gold was an extension of that dream. I have had amazing experiences, which taught me lessons that go beyond the hockey field and its surroundings. The people who I have been privileged to play with and work with have all been so influential in my career and I cannot thank you enough.
The list would be too long to mention all, but I hope that you all know that I appreciate all that you have done for me. There are, however, a few people whom deserve special mention:
Firstly, thank you to my mum, Marian and my family for their continued support, financial and emotional! My passion and pure love and enjoyment for the game comes from you. This journey that I embarked on would not have been possible if it was not for you!
Thank you to Greenwood Park Primary School, where it all began. As a 6-year-old having an opportunity to play school hockey and have the support of the coaches and staff to develop and discover my talent and passion is rare.
I am eternally grateful for having the start that I was so fortunate to be given. Thank you to Northlands Girls High School for exposing me to coaches that I loved being coached by such as Tracy Perry, Bell Meek, Michelle MacNaughton and over and above that for the teams that I just loved being a part of.
Thank you to KwaZulu-Natal hockey association, Lennie Botha and his executive members, Southern Gauteng Hockey Association, Sheila Brown and all the provincial coaches for their support, encouragement and opportunity to grow as a competitive athlete and to continue to learn about the game. I thoroughly enjoyed my student years and want to thank Karen Sharratt and UKZN, as well as Adrian Carter and the University of Johannesburg for giving me not only unforgettable experiences and memories but also friendships that will never end.
My hockey family extends further than the national players whom are my lifelong friends and sisters but also to the strong friendships that I was blessed with to form with others through my school and student years.
The national coaches who played a major role in my personal development and understanding of myself and the game, Ros Howell, Jen King and Giles Bonnet and members of their management teams. Ros Howell, for teaching me the values of the team coming first, Giles for teaching me to want more and expect more from myself. I have loved every minute of working with you and hope that you know that I would not have worked so hard to be part of something this special, if it was not for you.
To my sponsors, Kookaburra, Nike and Clere Active for your support and allowing me to follow my dreams. I am eternally grateful for your support throughout my career. I am also blessed to be an ambassador for LIV village, an organization that just proves that if you follow your heart all things are possible. Thank you to Lee-Roy Newton and Newton Sports Agency for helping me make this dream possible.
I have been blessed to have been exposed to so many strong, powerful people who I continue to learn from and this list is extremely long, but words cannot express my gratitude to you all for teaching me lessons daily. Sometimes you are not even aware of, but by the way you live your lives I have learnt so much from you.
I have been blessed to play a few seasons of hockey abroad, in The Netherlands. I have learnt that not only does sport unite nations but it unites people in ways one would never dream of. I would not have met my loving and supportive husband if it was not for the game we both love so passionately. Alexander, thank you for your continued support and encouragement to follow my dreams relentlessly.
To the SA team, I cannot express how much the former and current players of the team mean to me. The past players who I never had the opportunity to actually play with, but whom I have met and got to know along my journey, I have so much respect for you all. The players I have had the opportunity to share highs, lows, sweat, blood and tears with; the bonds that we created over the years will last forever. I love how my friendships have lasted through these years and go beyond our shared passion for hockey.
Of course, absolutely none of this would be possible without the South African Hockey Association and the Ministry of Sport and Recreation. To SAHA CEO Marissa Langeni and Minister Fikile Mbalula I am eternally grateful to you all for giving us the platform to follow our sporting dreams with all our hearts. I hope that players of the future are granted even better opportunities in this ever evolving game, and that SA hockey grows to achieve the dreams we all have had…to win a medal at an Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games.
It is difficult to make this decision, however, I feel blessed to make it with a happy heart as I look back at the last 14 years with a deep gratitude. This is just the end of my journey as a player but I look forward to staying involved as a player’s representative and also other levels of involvement in the game.