Hockey: New regime looks to lessen quota impact

2008-11-13 00:00

A NEW broom is attempting to sweep clean much of the unhappiness that has enveloped SA hockey over recent years, and colour-based quotas at senior and U21 level could be a thing of the past by the end of this weekend.

Reggie Smith, voted on to the SA Hockey Association executive and new holder of the transformation portfolio, has unveiled a carefully considered plan to dissolve at least some of the bitterness that has crept into the game and threatened to split it.

Smith, sports officer for cricket, hockey and rugby at the University of KZN Pietermaritzburg campus, is putting forward a bottom-up rather then top-down process in terms of colour-based team selection.

The gist is a determination that senior and U21 teams will be picked on merit for events that are not government-driven.

While the Olympic and Commonwealth Games may still have colour-based team quotas according to government wishes, the hockey-driven events such as World Cups will see teams picked on merit.

Smith, working closely with full-time Saha junior and development hockey employee Gary Dolley of Port Elizabeth, told The Witness yesterday their feeling is that by U21 and senior level it is too late to change weaknesses in a player’s game for the high standards required at top level.

The Beijing Olympics three months ago illustrated that despite concerted attempts to upgrade skills levels of certain players, the results were fruitless.

Quotas will be maintained from U13 to U18 level, ages where Smith believes intervention in terms of changing player technique for peak performance is not too late.

The big question is whether the Saha Council, which consists of delegates from the provinces, will accept the proposal in Pretoria tomorrow.

If not, the strict, controversial Saha quota system will remain in place at all levels.

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