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Marcelle Keet
Marcelle Manson

Marcelle Manson (neé Keet)

Outstanding athletes are the best of the best, they stand on the shoulders of giants and in the case of women’s sport for the most part they need to be even more fantastic. The reason being that most female athletes have a regular job as well as playing for their club, train 6/7 times a week and fly around the world representing their country.

So it’s something special that has to set someone apart as our ‘Outstanding athlete’ for an issue. Marcelle may have been one half of our cover for the feature on the South African Hockey team last year but that was about the team, this is about her
being an outstanding athlete.

Marcelle breathes the very rarefied air of not only having represented her country in more than one sport but she has stuck with it - and this is what makes her such a remarkable athlete. She continues to represent South Africa full time in two
sports - Water polo and Hockey, both physically challenging contact sports.
When sitting down to chat with her it’s always a pleasure as she exudes such happiness, positivity and appreciation of those around her, it’s contagious.

To Marcelle her life is about her family, her sport and as she says “using every opportunity.” It’s this view that has helped her become what she is. Capped over 40 times for Water polo and 138 for Hockey she is a skilled athlete - but when I ask her if she feels special or one of a small group that has achieved what she has, she can’t see it, to her it’s just normal. “My mum and Dad encouraged us to do and try, they didn’t make a big deal of any of it and so I never saw it as a big deal. So it’s not a big deal,” she says of both her formative years and her view now.

She genuinely is relaxed in herself and in what she is doing and doesn’t see it as anything special - and it’s this very outlook that has allowed her to achieve what she has. Free from all the normal expectations and pressures she is ‘just’ an athlete
and that allows her to excel at the highest levels on the international stage.

There is more to her though than being a remarkable athlete. She has an outlook on sport and life that has shaped not only her own development but also affects those around her and importantly, is helping the next generation to grow under her mentoring. She is a keen advocate of the next generation and listening to her talk about the young people coming through and her excitement about their skills and where they are going, in a way says a lot about her as a person as much as about her as an athlete.

She isn’t trying to stay in the limelight for as long as possible - she has a bigger view of sport and life than that. This is about the next generation and she wants to make sure that they are equipped to fill some very big shoes. For Marcelle there are some clear principles: she has friends not just team mates, you make the best of being away from home, she loves being with the girls, representing is a privilege and the one phrase that kept recurring is “I love it,” as she would say whenever she couldn’t think of how to express why.

She is exuberant when explaining about her life view, why it’s not a challenge, why doing two sets of training with two teams and flying round the world for two different sports is fun. No matter which way I worded questions it was clear she genuinely was happy doing what she does and doesn’t see it as being a major issue. “You need
to work for success,” she says, recognising that it doesn’t just happen - but outside of that you will never hear her complain because she loves it and enjoys it.

This isn’t spin, it comes from a genuine belief and gratitude for what she is doing and “a desire to always see the best of everything,” as Shelley Russell said of her team mate. It’s not blind positivity, it’s gratitude and enjoyment that is firmly grounded in hard work that allows her to gain every ounce of life out of a situation and have fun doing it. Just don’t try and cross her on the Water polo court or on the Hockey pitch….

Marcelle is an outstanding athlete for all these reasons and a joy to spend time with and  interview, her outlook on life is great. It would be impossible not to be impacted by her were you to meet her.