Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 


My name is Azelia Liu. I am a former Canadian goalkeeper for the National women’s field hockey team. I also represented Canada in indoor hockey, and floorball! Currently, I work as a high school teacher. I love growing up in our Canadian school system because it gave me opportunities to learn and try different sports. I have always loved being a goalie. As a child, I wanted to be an ice hockey goalie and always imagined myself playing on a team.


Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you faced. 


Looking back on my career, the biggest barrier I faced was where and how I began my journey as a field hockey goalie. Growing up, I had a very regimented upbringing. My parents favoured academics over athletics and Chinese roots over Western culture in hopes to preserve our roots. In a nutshell, my parents enrolled me in Chinese school and Chinese brush painting classes. Don’t get me wrong, I am very fortunate for those experiences but I just wanted to be active, playing sports.


My opportunities to play came when I joined school sports teams. I joined the soccer team, field hockey, ice hockey, and softball teams in high school. I did them all because it was when I was in my element especially when I got to be the goalie. I soaked in all the coaching that I received and cherished every chance I got to play. I believe this early struggle of mine led me to see playing as a privilege and a rare opportunity. When my parents said, “Yes” to letting me play on a club team, I don’t think they knew I was going to play at the university level let alone for Team Canada….I don’t think I did either. However, I was determined to improve every year and set new limits and that’s what kept me playing for over ten years.

How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport to help you overcome your barrier?


Honestly, I never thought about barriers. I never thought I was too short…..although I’m not very tall (I’m 5’2” tall). Focusing on who I am and on what I have, I was able to achieve my goals. However, sport has helped me become more mentally resilient. I am not someone who has a lot of confidence. My confidence waivers and I learned during my playing career that as long as I increased my training prior to major competitions both physically and mentally, I was able to stabilize my confidence. My game-day routines included positive self-talk, visualisation, breathing techniques and the use of cue words to help me stay in the moment of plays so I wouldn’t become too negative.


If you had one word to describe your character, experiences or philosophy what would it be? Why?




My word would be “opportunistic”. My parents used to tell me, “if you ever get an opportunity, seize it as you may never get another chance”. I am determined to follow my plan. I think it’s important to complete something that I set out to do. However great or small, bringing 100% of your energy and efforts will help one achieve what they set out to do. This gives purpose to our actions and experiences.


If you wanted to motivate a young female athlete to #buildherup, what quote would you use? Why?


“I can only control myself, my actions, my work ethic, and my attitude.”

– Ali Krieger


I like this quote because it encourages young females to stay focus on their own goals, and what they can control. Especially with so many distractions today with social media, it is easy to get misled and be stretched too thin in different directions. Focusing on what is important and leaning on those who care about you and support you can really go a long way.