ALMOST 15 years after he turned his back on soccer, Jason Gabriel has made hockey history.
The Victoria Park Xavier Hockey Club striker on the weekend joined the ranks of a select few that have taken to the field to play 300 games in the state’s Premier League.
Considered one of the most competitive domestic competitions in the world, WA’s top-flight division sees members of the Australian national teams incorporated into the league along with a host of other hockey stars from across the world.
However, what makes the 30-year-old Kensington resident’s journey even more impressive is that it could have all turned out quite differently had he not shifted his sporting allegiances as a teenager.
“Dad always played hockey but when I was a kid I never played properly as a junior,” Gabriel said.
“I played soccer until I was 14 and when I was 15 I started to play hockey and it all moved quite quickly.
“After that, I was picked in the U15 state team and everything else went from there.
“I didn’t have a game-style base coming through, so I was quite lucky I had some great people around me to help me out.
“It took a while for me to get to grips with things skill-wise but I suppose I had some natural ability from playing with my dad in the back garden as a kid.”
Shortly after joining Victoria Park Xavier Hockey Club as a 16-year-old, Gabriel was handed his Premier League debut.
Career highlights include two premierships in 2008 and 2012, and representing his state with the WA Thundersticks.