Funding woes, but SA hockey ‘on track’

2013-02-15 00:00

A LACK of finance remains the most pressing concern of the South Africa men’s hockey team.

While it hampers their efforts to compete on a level playing field with rivals who are able to fund plenty of centralised training sessions and Test matches every year, it will never be used as an excuse.

Charlie Pereira, who was appointed head coach for the World League round two in Rio de Janeiro from February 27 to March 5, has been hard at work in getting his diaspora to put in as much quality time as possible in cities throughout SA and overseas.

“I was with the Gauteng guys at training in Johannesburg last night,” said the KZN Inland-based Pereira yesterday.

“The players from Pretoria and Johannesburg had a good session with Ned [SA trainer Craig Fulton], so yes, it is difficult … not having all the players from Rio together, but we are not going to whine about it.”

The 18-man team for Rio are spread between Potchefstroom, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, The Netherlands and Belgium.

“Given what we have, the circumstances, we are on track,” said Pereira.

“Rob [van Ginkel, SA physical conditioning coach] has each player on a physical conditioning programme so we will be fit in Rio, but it is game time on the pitch that is so critical … we have two practice matches when we arrive in Rio, but it is never enough.”

The sprinkling of SA players plying their trade in Europe will have the benefit of tough club matches under their belts and should arrive in Rio battle-hardened and ready for action.

“All round I am pretty happy, and it is good to know that the 18 picked for Rio are all injury-free at this stage,” Pereira added.

SA will tackle Brazil, tournament favourites Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile and the United States in Rio.

The top two teams will qualify for the World League semi-finals to be held in June/July.

SOUTH AFRICA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM FOR RIO

Miguel da Graca, Clint Panther, Ricky West, Oliver Whiteley, Rassie Pieterse (all Southern Gauteng); Lloyd Norris-Jones, Craig Haley, Ashlin Freddy, Austin Smith, Pierre de Voux (all Western Province); Taine Paton, Tim Drummond, Gowan Jones (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Jethro Eustice (KZN Inland); Jonty Robinson, Rhett Halkett (capt), Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues); Julian Hykes (North West).

Head Coach: Charlie Pereira.

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