Hail the invincibles

2013-08-22 00:00

A HIGH work ethic with clear understanding of what needs to be done on and off the field have been the key to Riverside Hockey Club’s (RHC) men’s 1st team being undefeated for two seasons.

This past weekend, the side played their final KZN Super League match, winning 5-2 against UKZN, merely going through the motions after securing the title the previous week.

At the final whistle, RHC had maintained their 100% win record and respect as the top club side in the province. The side have not lost a match since January last year, indoor and outdoor, and it’s a matter of maintaining the high standard set.

“We set our goals for the season, which were to win the title, go through the season undefeated and win each game with solid, hard hockey, while maintaining the correct ethics on the field,” said captain Michael Botha.

Having reached the top and stayed there, it’s a question of what next for the invincible team. “We hope to play in the Africa Club Champs in December this year in Uganda,” said Botha. “That lies in the hands of SA Hockey in deciding which club gets the nod. With no SA Championships, there’s no clear indication of who should go, but it should be the best club in the country and we believe we are there.

“Earlier this year, we hosted an elite club challenge with the three top sides from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Western Province. We won again and were undefeated.”

Botha knows his business on the field and is the right man to lead the team. He has been playing hockey for 26 years, the last 10 at Riverside.

“There is a great understanding and balance in the side,” he said. “It’s great to see youngsters coming through and putting their heart and soul into the game. This is key to our success, when there are players who recognise their importance to team and cause, resulting in them always putting in the extra yards to reap the benefits.”

Average age of the side is 25 and it’s taken four to five years to mould the team and players into where they now find themselves.

“We train as a team three times a week, on top of playing our weekend game. Some of the players do extra gym training and we have had some schoolboys — Matt da Sousa (Northwood) and Jason Reed (Glenwood) — who have been regulars in the side,” said Botha.

Looking at the results, there have been some mighty wins, including a 14-0 hammering of Gongs, a 10-1 triumph over Munies and a strong 11-0 win against the RHC second side. The latter team also proved their worth, winning the Super League Plate with a 6-2 against Gongs in their final match of the season.

While proud of his team, Botha looks beyond the goals and achievements in pinpointing some of his season highlights. “Yes, there are key matches, results and goals we tick as we move through the season, but nothing beats watching a youngster gain his first team cap and jacket,” he said.

“Those who experience winning the league for the first time (RHC won the Super League for the first time last year) rate it highly, despite some of the players having been to the Olympics and World Cups.

“These are the moments when you realise the importance of the game and the pride the players have in representing the club. This is what our success is based on.”

Riverside’s Road to the League Title

v UKZN 4-1

v Pinetown 6-2

v Kearsney 7-4

v Riverside 2 11-0

v Gongs 14-0

v Munies 10-1

v Rovers 4-1

v UKZN 5-0

v Rovers 4-2

v Kearsney 5-2

v UKZN 5-2

v Rovers 4-1

v Kearsney 6-2

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