A player who dreams big, Hezlett hopes to head for Netherlands

2014-04-29 00:00

WHILE Keegan Hezlett knows that hockey is a poor cousin to many sports in South Africa, he is determined to continue wielding the crooked stick to great effect in years ahead.

Earlier this year, he played in the SA side at the Youth Olympic qualifiers in Zambia, scoring two goals and ensuring his side qualified for the games in August this year, in China.

“I enjoy indoor and outdoor hockey and play at club level for Riverside Hockey Club’s men’s first side,” said Keegan. “I started playing hockey in Grade 3, when I was eight, and am definitely not a full contact sport player. Hockey does just fine for me.”

His talent is evident. He has been in Glenwood’s first hockey team for the past three years and has close to 50 caps to his name. He is a player who thinks and dreams big, already planning his future in the game.

“Having the SA men’s coach Fabian Gregory as Glenwood’s first team coach is massive for me, as I can rub shoulders with someone who knows the game at the highest level,” said Keegan. “He is assisting me in getting my name out there and connecting with the right people when it comes to playing overseas.”

And that’s where Keegan has aimed his sights. Although he has never played overseas — the trip to China being his first ever overseas journey, let alone having not played outside of Africa — he harbours an ambition to head for the Netherlands once he has finished school, where he hopes to impress and hook up at club level.

“The Netherlands are mighty strong at hockey and would be the ideal platform for me to improve my game, learn and get experience. Being able to play there would be more than first prize and would develop my game beyond what I could imagine,” he said.

It’s a full schedule for Keegan who has to ensure his marks in the classroom remain above standard while he hares around the hockey field.

“There’s school, club and provincial hockey to play and I have a busy week training and playing. I was selected for the KZN U21 side to play at an inter-provincial in Cape Town from April 21 and the classroom has provided some respite from the hockey programme,” he said.

Keegan also adds some light weights and physical exercises to his training and, determined to make something of his hockey career, is one of those who goes the extra mile, often staying longer after practice to work on his game, glean advice and get better, knowing it gives him the edge over his competition.

“My goal is to be selected for the U21 Junior World Cup in 2016,” he said. “I think I am on the right track having been selected for the SA U18 side to play three Tests against Australia in June this year, here in South Africa.”

While Keegan is adept at both indoor and outdoor hockey, he acknowledges that the indoor discipline calls on all his skills to pull through.

“Just thinking about indoor hockey makes me tired. It’s five-a-side and is three periods of 12 minutes with rolling substitutes,” he said. “The action is non-stop and fitness is vital. There is no off-side, the ball can come off the boundary boards and it’s up and down running.”

At the Youth Olympics, Keegan will play this version of the game and he is well prepared. “The team had a camp at Kearsney in January where we were able to get used to the pace of the game and work on strategy and gameplan,” he said. “The playing field as such is much smaller than outdoor but it’s superb fun and for a keen hockey player like myself, I don’t mind what’s dished up, as long as I can play and get a game.”

Name: Keegan Hezlett

School: Glenwood

Age: 16

Grade: 12

Sport: Hockey

Achievements: Colours for hockey; Glenwood 1st team hockey and cricket; KZN and SA hockey.

Keegan Hezlett at a glance

Enjoys bodyboarding

Has played soccer but had too many injuries

Is a Manchester United supporter

Has a bird aviary at home

Enjoys the outdoors (uncle is a ranger at Hluhluwe)

Is a quick-fix, microwave cook

Pasta is a favourite meal

Reads sports mags

Likes action movies — 21 Jump Street is a favourite

Tries to play guitar

Listens to music to relax — Deep House

Fav subject is sports science

Wants to study business management or journalism

Role models are SA hockey players Tim Drummond and SA captain Austin Smith

Advice

Follow your dream and never give up. Make that sacrifice and put in the extra little bits. They all count and grow big in the end.

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