Southern Steel: Q & A with Kalifa McCollin - April 28, 2020
Our international shooting star, Kalifa McCollin gives us an insight into what life looks like outside of netball, and the journey Kalifa has taken as a netball player.
How have you been enjoying your time in Invercargill? Obviously life down south at the moment will be a lot different to what you were expecting…
It’s been good so far, considering everything that’s going on. I was expecting to have been through four rounds of netball by now, but I’d say in times like these you can always find light. I use my time to reflect, do a lot more reading, and follow through with my training program. I have more time to connect with friends and family which is really important to me.
Tell me a bit about your journey as a netball player..
I started playing netball at age six - I followed in the footsteps of both my parents, as they were involved in the sport as both player and coach. I was selected to represent our national U16 team at age 12 and played for three years after that. I was then named in the U21 team where I was able to play in my first U21 Youth World Cup, which was an amazing experience. At age 17, I became a member of the National Senior team where I made my debut in a Test Series in South Africa and played in my first Commonwealth Games that year. I managed to cement my position for seven years, and got the opportunity to play in two Netball World Cups and represent my country Trinidad and Tobago.
What does life outside of netball look like (before lockdown!)?
Life was quite hectic with training sessions being three times a day, six days a week, but having my teammates there brought so much more life and excitement to each day. We would always go out for lunch together or watch a movie. I had the opportunity to see Six60 live in concert and that has been my best moment here thus far.
You played in the UK’s Vitality Netball Super League for a few years and earned a place in the All Stars Team last season - how would you compare that competition to our ANZ Premiership here in New Zealand?
The Super League has a great blend of experience, youth and talent, just as much as the ANZ Premiership. The disparity between the two, would be the style of play in NZ - It’s a very physical brand of netball here, very fast ball speed and little umpire interaction which allows the game to flow.
Your favourite quote or tagline... “Netball is Art, the Court is my Canvas” - What does this tagline mean to you?
I managed to come up with that quote as a kid growing up. I’ve always loved the idea of the court being a space for me to be creative, try new things - a pass behind the back or through the legs. So I see netball as a free space for my innovative mind.
Your parents are heavily involved in netball back home in Trinidad & Tobago. Tell me about their involvement in the game, and the influence they have had on you..
My mother was recently appointed as the head coach of the U21 Team, but she wears many caps, and I admire her for her hard work and her competitive nature. She and my dad have been spearheading my home club “Soul City” for over 42 years, where they’ve been very successful. They’ve been my coaches ever since I can remember. My Mom and Dad would wake me early in the morning to go put some shots up and put the work in because I wanted to be the best at what I did. They were there to wipe my tears when I didn’t feel like I could anymore and give me the extra push when I really didn’t want to get out of bed to train. I owe them for being my coaches, my support staff, my managers and just the best NETBALL PARENTS anyone could ask for.
How do you stay motivated to train during a time like this?
I try to stay connected with my teammates and I also constantly remind myself that there’s purpose in what I do and hopefully when everything is over, I’ll be back on court with my teammates and have an opportunity to do what I love.
Any advice that you would give to young and aspiring netball players?
Be the best YOU that you can be, enjoy it, and remember that EXTRAS are your friend.