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Graham Shaw: 'I'm grateful for life I have and I'll never take anything for granted again'



Graham Shaw

Graham Shaw


Graham Shaw with wife Ali and children Jack and Ellie

Graham Shaw with wife Ali and children Jack and Ellie

Graham Shaw

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Graham Shaw who enjoyed his finest hour as a hockey coach in 2018 when he steered the Ireland women's team to the World Cup final. The former Annadale and Ireland player, who was capped 151 times, is now head coach of the New Zealand national women's side.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I am doing really well, thank you. My wife Ali and children Ellie (8) and Jack (5), pictured, are safe and well and just trying to get through these crazy times. We went into lockdown on March 18 which involved staying at home for an entire month and the kids have now gone back to school. We were home schooling them for the past eight weeks which was interesting. The kids have been fantastic but are delighted to go be back seeing their friends again. We have been doing lots of video calls and family quizzes with friends and family back in Ireland which has kept us feeling really connected to the situation back home. I hope everyone is safe and well back home.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: We are trying to look at the positives. We got to spend a lot of time together as a family which was nice after a big move to New Zealand from Ireland in July last year. We are very lucky as we live beside the beach which has been fantastic. We have tried to exercise as a family most days, running, cycling and going for walks on the beach. Work has changed a lot as we were in full preparation for the Tokyo Olympics which have obviously been postponed so we have the programme on a full break. We were due to have family over to visit but trips have had to be cancelled, as was our post Tokyo family holiday.

Q: How are you and the squad keeping fit?

A: As we are officially on a programme break, we have left the players alone to get their lives in order and given them the freedom to return home to their families and friends. Hockey is not important right now. The squad all have individual training programmes that they can complete in their own time with whatever equipment they have available. We are not putting the players under any unnecessary pressure during this period. Personally, I have tried to keep some kind of routine, mostly walking, cycling and running.


Graham Shaw with wife Ali and children Jack and Ellie

Graham Shaw with wife Ali and children Jack and Ellie

Graham Shaw with wife Ali and children Jack and Ellie


Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?

A: I think I'm a positive person in general so I've been keeping my morale up by being present with my wife and kids. It is very rare in this job that you get so much time at home together so we are enjoying this period before our programme ramps up again. We meet as a staff once a week online to start the planning process for the 2020/21 season. The squad keep in touch through WhatsApp and social media but we not putting them under any pressure. Everyone will deal with this crisis differently and we feel it's important to give them space.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: We are living in an incredible spot outside Auckland, 200 metres from the beach, and we have some beautiful National Parks within our 'bubble' so it could be worse. My wife Ali and the kids have settled well and are happy here and that is most important to me right now. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I am drawing strength from the experience of living in this incredible country and experiencing the welcome we have received.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think stay at home sports fans might like?

A: We have got through a fair amount of Netflix series and I have watched many documentaries over the past few weeks. My recommendations would be, for a film, 'The Gentlemen', for a series 'The Last Dance' about basketball legend Michael Jordan and 'The Test' which is a fascinating documentary on the Australian cricket team. I tend to read a lot on leadership so I am getting through a few Jon Gordon books right now.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: It has been a great reminder of how lucky I am and the opportunities that I have received in life. I am grateful for the life I have and I will never take anything for granted again. This year in general has taught me, and confirmed, that friends and family are most important to me. Doing your part to ensure your 'whanau' (the Maori word for family) stay safe and well is the most important part of overcoming this crisis. It has shown me that communities can come together and the strength of one 'team' can beat anything!

Q: What is the first thing you will do when all this is over?

A: We moved out of lockdown a few days ago so the first opportunity we get time, we will go for a nice long hike and a well deserved lunch after! New Zealand is a beautiful country so we are looking forward to seeing a bit of it.

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: Stay safe and well. We are all in this together, and if we work together like any good team, then we can get back to normal life as soon as possible.

Belfast Telegraph