New coach raises eyebrows

2013-02-20 00:00

CARLOS “Charlie” Pereira’s appointment as head coach of the South Africa men’s hockey team for the World League Round 2 event came as a surprise to many.

The event takes place in Rio de Janeiro from February 27 to March 5.

Pereira’s is an interim position, as the SA Hockey Association has pointed out. Management posts will be re-advertised on the team’s return from Rio de Janeiro and Pereira will undoubtedly apply.

The circumstances around the appointment were also unusual, as incumbent SA coach Gregg Clark and his Ranchi Rhinos were sweeping all before them in the inaugural Hockey India League, and it was felt that someone had to be available to run the SA camp and then head the team in the crucial month leading to Rio.

Success in Rio is of vital importance to world No. 12 South Africa, as ranking points and qualification for the World League semi-finals in mid-year are at stake.

A number of coaches were interviewed at the camp in Cape Town and Pereira came up trumps, with several other interviewees now part of his Rio support staff.

But who is Pereira, the inspirational hockey man who turns 51 in Rio on Friday? It’s an interesting story.

“Mom called me Charlie or Charles from when I grew up and the name stuck,” says Pereira from his holding in Curry’s Post in the Midlands.

The former Centaurus, Windhoek, pupil is the only boy from the former South West Africa to have been selected to the SA Schools hockey side.

The Johannesburg-born chartered accountant-turned businessman captained SA U21 for two years and represented Northern Blues and Southern Gauteng.

He is married to former Eastern Province, Southerns and KZN Midlands player Sally Geldart and they have two children.

He won the South African title once with Southerns and he made his official SA debut in in 1994. He played for the whites-only, unofficial SA team in 1985.

Pereira returned to coaching three years ago after work commitments had kept him out of the game for a time.

Having played 49 official Test matches including the 1994 World Cup in Sydney, the former South African vice-captain and midfield general quips that the first match in Rio will be his 50th.

In his heyday, Pereira was SA Player of the Year a number of times and Player of the Tournament at a four-nation event in Madrid in 1993.

The former national convenor of selectors returned three years ago with KZN Inland and his coaching has helped the team come close to reaching national tournament semi-finals.

His indoor provincial side has won the SA title three years in succession.

“The break I had from the game was probably a good thing as since my return with KZN Inland three years ago the journey has been amazing.

“I have loved it, and the opportunity to lead the coaching staff with such a talented young team in Rio is incredible,” was Pereira’s parting shot.

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