Hockey: KZN Inland women need a stellar coach

2010-07-30 00:00

WHILE the KZN Inland supporters and players are mourning the women­’s  team’s  relegation  to  the B section of the 2011 SA Interprovincial Women’s Hockey Tournament, there is a smidgeon of good cheer.

Kara Stella, who was everywhere for KZN Inland at the IPT in East London last week, did her best to help her team-mates avoid the dreaded drop from the A section, but relegation came in the form of finishing last in the eight-team top-tier competition.

Yet Stella’s sterling performance was recognised by the selection convenor of the South African women’s hockey team, Mickey Gordon and his panel of head coach Giles Bonnet and Jo Morley-Jepson.

The Maritzburg Varsity player was selected among the 10 most promising young players at the IPT, those, that is, who weren’t included in the 34-player national women’s squad that is currently in camp in Durban and then in Cape Town next week before the 18-player World Cup team is named for Argentina next month.

Stella is the only Inland player among the group of 44 players who is recognised at the IPT, and her nine other­ most-promising-player companions are Bernadette Coston, Catherine­ McNulty, Mapule Makoena and Ncedisa Magwentshu (all Southern Gauteng), Cindi Tregoning (Witwatersrand), Tarryn Moses (Northerns Blues), Faryn Halstead (KZN Coastals), and Hettie Oosthuizen and Nicole Kemp (both Free State).

What to do though, about Inland’s demise? Talking Hock ey canvassed opinion from a number of key personnel in the Inland hockey administration.

Talk among many at the IPT is that Inland are the most unfit A section side, while B section challengers for A section promotion — Free State (who take Inland’s place) and Border plus WP Peninsula — are hungrier, far more ambitious in their goals and they have trained extremely hard to attain them. Their sides were picked months ago and they worked as a group for a long time in preparation. Their coaching staff and management were settled months in advance.

Yes, Free State imported three Dutch players, but they didn’t break the rules. Maybe they were more professional in their goals — no one moans if a provincial football or rugby team bring in overseas players. Forget­ about hockey-is-an-amateur- sport nonsense. Just because you are an amateur doesn’t mean that you have to think like an amateur.

My contention is this: make your point to provincial hierarchy to bring up at national level your issues about imports, then get down to controlling what you can and what’s happening in your own back yard.

Make a plan, hire a coach and management­ staff who are totally and I mean totally (think Elsie Coetzer of Free State) committed to the women­’s cause. Ask players what they want, get buy-in, if not they must buy out of provincial hockey.

But vitally, as I suspect Bonnet has done, you as a coach must inspire players to internalise their motivation. World all-time great Pietie Coetzee­ has come back after a five-year break from international hockey because she is fired up at the new team’s goals and she now wants a piece of it.

Other national players at the IPT astonished me with how excited they are about their hockey again. They are jumping out of their skin to train and play to their limits in order to find out just how good they — and the team — can be.

Bonnet has been the catalyst that has lit the flame within the team. I say to Inland, look at your budget very closely, trim it here, cost-cut it there, get rid of the unnecessary (there is always wastage somewhere), think outside the box, excite and inspire a sponsor or two, and find a Bonnet for Inland, someone who is passionate about the team. And the players who care, like Stella, will respond.

 

FIXTURES

Friday: KZN Super League – Men (Queensmead): Dbn Varsity vs PMB Varsity (6 pm); Rovers I vs PMB Collegians (7.30 pm).

Saturday: KZN Inland Premier League – Women (AB Jackson Greenfields Turf): Varsity B vs Standard A (4 pm).

Sunday: KZN Super League – Women (Riverside Sports Club): Riverside I vs PMB Varsity (9.30 am); PMB Collegians vs Riverside II.

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