SA women’s coach plots the way forward

2010-07-23 00:00

WATCHING the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament with interest at Kat Leisure Park in East London this week has been new national coach Giles Bonnet. He offered his thoughts on the recent South African squad tour to China, as well as what he is hoping to see during the action taking place at IPT.

“Not every objective was reached during the three weeks in Beijing,” Bonnet told The Witness. “However, the process was started, which was in itself a key goal.”

Bonnet said examples of some of the process goals that were reached were the establishment of a new style of play and a framework that was understood and implemented in the 12 matches that SA played against world No. 3 team and current Olympic Games silver medallists, China.

“Key structures were introduced, which gave the players the requirement expected in terms of playing both with and without the ball, and an inventory of technical skills was made for each individual … work was also started in the development of new skills, missing skills or reinforcing existing skills,” the former Highbury and Michaelhouse product said.

Bonnet said specific technical training was started in specialist areas, such as goalkeeper, drag-flick and striker training. “A collective vision was identified and shared, and measurable goals were agreed that would be required to make this vision possible to realise.

“The squad that we had in China showed a strong resilience to being pushed hard, and a fighting spirit to remain competitive, which was very pleasing to see.”

Bonnet said that as the group improves its structures and individual skills within these structures, this tough competitiveness will turn good performances into results.

“There is also the attitude to do the hard work required, and very necessary, to become a more competitive team; this was another important quality that stood out in this stage of our development.”

The former SA men’s captain and men’s national coach, who also coached the Belgium national men’s team, is based in Amsterdam where he coaches Dutch Premier League club Pinoke.

Bonnet said there are six key areas that stand out to represent the team’s focus going forward: technical skills, physical conditioning, decision making and on-field responsibility, specialist skills, set-pieces, and structures.

“Two-thirds of the current national squad were able to be present in China and it was very encouraging to see how the players grew through the three-week period and how the team began to implement the structures and appointments assigned to them towards the end of the stage,” the 46-year-old said.

He said these points, and the fact that the team began to become competitive in periods in the last three matches with China through the implementation of the structures, was a big plus, especially considering the poor physical condition of the team by that stage, as they had been put through an extremely strenuous test both physically and mentally.

“We have two camps after IPT, which will allow us to continue the process that was started in China, especially in the identified six key areas. This camp will also form the start of our physical testing.

And then from there, the individual physical training programmes will begin,” said Bonnet.

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