Ex-student Kyle Pontifex has yesterday announced his retirement from international hockey duty. Hockey NZ have put out the glowing article below:
One of the Black Sticks’ greatest ever goalkeepers, Kyle Pontifex, has drawn the curtain on a fantastic international career.
The 36-year-old Wellingtonian has decided it’s time to switch focus to an ongoing work career along with dedicating more time to his young family.
Pontifex made his debut against Malaysia in 2001 and represented New Zealand in 176 tests during a period which spanned over 15 years.
He protected the cage at three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012), two Commonwealth Games (Melbourne 2006, Delhi 2010) and two World Cups (Monchengladbach 2006, Delhi 2010).
“I think it’s a pretty natural decision, I’ve been playing for a long time and it’s about time I move on with life,” he said.
“I’ve got a career at ANZ to continue, an MBA [Master of Business Administration] to finish and a wife and two young kids who would love to see a bit more of me.”
Pontifex took a lengthy hiatus from the international scene following the London 2012 Olympics but made a comeback last year and enjoyed working under head coach Colin Batch.
While he missed selection for this year’s Rio Olympic Games, Pontifex said he had absolutely no regrets.
“I certainly don’t regret making a comeback last year and really enjoyed my time with a new crop of players. Hopefully my experience and what I offered in the squad environment played a part in helping the guys in Rio.
“Playing at the 2011 Champions Trophy at home in Auckland was the highlight of my career. To be part of an event of that calibre on home soil was amazing and one I’ll never forget.”
Over 15 years playing for New Zealand he saw the game of hockey change a great deal, especially on a positional level as a goalkeeper.
“The biggest change has been in the equipment, back in 2001 a lot of players were still using wooden sticks and carbon ones were only just being developed.
“The speed the ball travels now is incredible compared to back then and as a goalkeeper you need to be really onto it from penalty corners with players who have made an art of flicking at high speeds.”
While this is the end of his international career, Pontifex still plans to play club hockey and remain in contention for his regional representative side the Capital Cobras.
“I’d just like to say a big thank you to ANZ who I have worked for right through my international career and have helped me a lot along the way, along with OBO and Mizuno who have been fantastic with the equipment I’ve used over the years.
“Thank you to all the coaches, support staff, fellow players and friends – but most importantly my wife and kids who have been incredibly supportive all the way.”
Black Sticks head coach Colin Batch thanked Pontifex for his professional and mature approach to the game.
“Kyle returned to the squad last year in preparation for Rio and straight away his level of professionalism was evident. He brought a maturity and honesty to the squad which we valued highly,” Batch said.
“He has achieved a great deal throughout his hockey career however, he was still able to combine a business career and family life.
“He has set a wonderful example of what can be achieved through good organisation and planning, we wish Kyle and his family all the best for the future.