KZN Inland may get top-flight hockey coach

2012-07-13 00:00

THERE is talk that a full-time professional hockey coach with vast international experience could be signed up next week to head up coaching at the KZN Inland Hockey Association and the University of KZN Pietermaritzburg campus.

A reliable source said that a few details needed to be finalised next week before an announcement was made.

With eight synthetic turf hockey pitches worth tens of millions of rand within a five kilometre radius, Pietermaritzburg probably has more pitches in such close proximity than in any other country barring the world’s hockey powerhouse, Holland.

There are a further four pitches — at St Anne’s, Hilton, Treverton and Michaelhouse — just up the road in the KZN Inland hockey province.

Yet despite this bonanza of expensive pitches at schools, tertiary and municipal level, the KZN Inland province is under-performing. Granted, while there is an impressive amount, there are comparatively few players in Inland compared to the big provinces like Southern Gauteng and Western Province, which have huge playing numbers.

However, apart from former GHS and Inland U18 captain Celia Evans, who just missed the cut for South Africa’s Olympic Games team recently, there have been no national players in recent years amongst the many schoolgirls who learnt the game here. And Evans went straight to University of North West after school, so they can lay claim to her being “one of theirs” as well.

On the boys’ side, there are five products of local schools in the SA men’s team for London 2012 — Maritzburg College products Marvin Harper and the Paton brothers, Wade and Taine, Tim Drummond of Hilton College and Clinton Panther of Michaelhouse.

That’s a decent number of players from PMB, yet by the standards of yesteryear the number of senior national women’s players has dried up, while at provincial level the Inland U18 boys and girls sides disappointed at the recent national tournaments.

The senior Inland women’s sides have also disappointed in recent years, although the men have had their moments.

Other reasons come into play; one of the most critical is the number of the best school players who leave the province for other tertiary institutions immediately they matriculate. There are fewer job opportunities than in the bigger cities.

Be that as it may, the injection of new blood in a coach who is at the cutting edge of world hockey coaching developments will add much value to coaches and players in the province. They should embrace him wholeheartedly and be prepared to work together for Inland to regain what it might have lost and spur it on to national titles at all levels.

Two KZN Men’s Super League matches are scheduled today at 7.30 pm, but confirmation is awaited. PMB Collegians are slated to play Pinetown at the AB Jackson while Varsity are due to meet Riverside on the campus’s Greenfields turf.

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