SA star on the rise

2014-06-07 00:00

TWO defeats in the opening World Cup matches indicate just how tough it is at the top, but for South Africa women’s hockey team defender/midfielder Quanita Bobbs it’s essentially part of the process of growing into a world-class player.

Just 20 and a member of the SA U21 side that finished an excellent eighth at Junior World Cup 2013 in Germany, third-year Maties student Bobbs is playing against superstars of the calibre of eight-time World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar — the greatest player the game has known — and the Capetonian’s idol just a few years ago when at Wynberg Girls’ High.

How does Bobbs deal with pressure at the World Cup when she has to face famous players like Aymar? “I just try to stay composed, concentrate on my game and nothing else.”

The world’s 11th-ranked SA team lost 4-0 to Aymar’s Argentina, the reigning World Cup champs, and then 4-1 to world number five Germany this past week but it hasn’t daunted the former Central Hockey Club player’s enthusiasm or ambitions.

“Selection for the World Cup was an incredibly happy moment and one of relief that I had made the team. I feel honoured to represent my country at such a major event, I aim to play consistently well in every single game,” Bobbs says as she prepared for yesterday afternoon’s big match against world number three England.

But this is just the start. There is the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July/August, the Rio 2016 Olympics; the 2020 Olympics just one other, so is Bobbs up for the challenge?

“Playing hockey is my passion, and playing hockey for my country is my dream, and to be able to live it every day is something I would never want to give up on.”

Bobbs has spent the better part of five months devoted to national commitments.

“It is extremely tough to balance studying and playing hockey, especially to excel in both at the same time. They both are time-demanding aspects in my life, but with the right support and delegation it is possible to do both,” says Bobbs.

From a sporty family, Bobbs grew up hitting a hockey ball on the Central HC pitch in Athlone, Cape Town in between matches from a very young age and she says CHC had much to do in engendering the love affair she has with the game.

“Central played a huge part in my development. I played in their youth teams all the way to the Grand Challenge team and I would have not made the SA team without their influence on my career. They are my second family, constantly supporting me and believing in me as I have grown as a player.

“I grew up with hockey and my father is still involved in the sport. My family believe in me and I can always depend on them to lift me up and give me advice.”

In the SA U21 side at the 2013 Junior World Cup in Germany, Bobbs also made the SA U18 team in 2010 and 2011 and was marked by universities from the outset as one to watch. “The biggest influence on my career would be Jenny King, my Maties coach. Since I’ve played under her she has given me huge support and direction. Another person who has a positive influence on my life is my dad. He is always encouraging me and believes in me no matter what.

“The national coaching staff is also always looking to get the best out of me; it motivates me to be better each day for them and the team.”

Quanita Bobbs. Watch this space.

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