Protea polocrosse team’s World Cup aim

2015-07-02 06:00

THE Protea polocrosse team will compete against the world’s top international teams at the Durban Shongweni Club at the beginning of July.

The Polocrosse World Cup’s official opening ceremony will be on 2 July, with the first round pool games starting on 3 July. Semi-finals and finals will be from 10 to 12 July.

Teams will be arriving from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and along with the South African team, will be competing for the prestigious title of world champions.

The polocrosse side consists of eight celebrated sportsmen and sportswomen - Jean Hackland from Bishopstowe, Celicia Jacobs (Delmas, Mpumalanga), Cayley Higgs (Richmond, KZN), Natalie MacLarty (Elandslaagte, KZN and Pretoria), Gavin Cocker (Cato Ridge, KZN), Jan-Albert Steenkamp (Wellington, Western Cape), Graham MacLarty (Elandslaagte, KZN) and Travis Timm (Mooi River, KZN).

South African team captain Gavin Cocker has grown up with cane in hand as he started playing at the age of five. As a young adult, Cocker played for the Zimbabwe men’s side, winning the first Quadrangular Cup in 1997. After immigrating to South Africa, Cocker, who now lives in Cato Ridge, qualified for the South African team that won the 2011 Polocrosse World Cup. Father to five, Cocker’s true joy is in practising the sport with his children.

Protea team member Jean Hackland, a KwaZulu-Natal player, hails from Bishopstowe, a small farming area outside Pietermaritzburg. Hackland is a veteran of the sport and has an impressive array of accomplishments.

Her experience saw her playing for the U19 ladies team and competing in the South African ladies side against the UK in 2004. Hackland makes the most of everyday juggling a family as well as other sports that include running, mountain biking and canoeing.

Nineteen-year old Natalie MacLarty, from Elandslaagte (Biggarsberg, KZN) is one of the youngest team members and is currently studying a BSC in genetics at the University of Pretoria. MacLarty was originally a showjumper who represented KZN in Pony Riders (1:15m) in 2007 and 2008, and again for KZN in the Open Equitation in 2007 and 2008. MacLarty then moved on to play for the winning South African under 16 polocrosse team against Australia in 2009 and the winning South African side in the 2013 Quadrangular.

At the age of 15, Graham MacLarty broke a 30 year record in that he was the youngest member of the South African men’s polocrosse side. MacLarty lives in a farming area near Elandslaagte (Biggarsberg, KZN) and was awarded Player of the Year in 2009 and in 2013.

MacLarty proved himself a skilled athlete as the youngest member of the South African team during the 2011 Polocrosse World Cup and at the age of 21 this year, he will again be the youngest male player on the South African side.

Cayley Higgs, the youngest team member, was born and raised in Richmond in KZN and matriculated last year from Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High. Partly due to her being a part of the team at this year’s Polocrosse World Cup, 18-year-old Higgs is taking a gap year while working at Roselands, an outdoor adventure and environmental education experience. Higgs was also a part of the team in the 2013 when South Africa won the Quadrangular.

Higgs spends some of her time riding the horses in preparation for the tournament. She has played polocrosse for 12 years and three generations of her family have played at an international level.

Topping off the acclaimed Protea team is Travis Timm - three generations of polocrosse players down, he adds to the legacy of playing in his family. The apple has not fallen far from the tree, since Timm also prides himself on being on the South African side, as his father was. Timm runs his polocrosse ponies on the family farm in Mooi River, KZN, and began practising the sport at the age of eight.

There will be six reserves for the Protea team - Tembi Madonsela (Greytown), Dawnay Jacobs (Mpumalanga), Leigh Higgs (Richmond), Patrick Nkosi (Bethel), 2014 SA Player of the Year, Andrew Heynes (PMB, Bishopstowe) and Nico Van Wyk (Mpumalanga).

Coach of the Protea team, Bruce MacLarty, 47 years old and a farmer in the Elandslaagte district (Biggarsberg, KZN) is an experienced and passionate mentor who has supported and challenged his players to reach the international level that they play at now.

The international players have attracted an estimated 600 foreign visitors and the tournament organisers are anticipating 10 000 supporters to fill the venue, heightening tourism in KZN.

Teams consist of eight players a side, played on horseback, the game is a fusion of the classic polo sport and lacrosse.

Each player has a fibreglass cane with a racquet-headed, loose net attached to the end to carry the sponge ball; the aim is to get the ball through the opposing team’s goal.

The Polocrosse Association of South Africa (Pasa) is honoured to be hosting this event and hopes to see the Protea polocrosse team taking the lead on home soil.

The local polocrosse community provided 130 A-grade horses for the international players. Each international team will draw a pool of 16 horses for the tournament.

Teams will compete within each pool, with the top scoring teams from each advancing to the semi-finals.

The six key tournament days will feature the following:

Day 1: Friday 3 July

9am New Zealand vs U.S.

10:30am Australia vs UK

12 noon Zimbabwe vs Ireland

2pm South Africa vs Zambia

Day 2: Saturday 4 July

9am Australia vs Ireland

10:30am U.S. vs Zambia

12pm Zimbabwe vs England

2pm South Africa vs New Zealand

Day 3: Sunday 5 July

9am Zambia vs New Zealand

10:30am Ireland vs United Kingdom

12noon Australia vs Zimbabwe

2pm South Africa vs U.S.

Day 4: Friday 10 July

9am Fourth Pool 1 vs Third Pool 2

10:30am Third Pool 1 vs Fouth Pool 2

12 noon Second Pool 1 vs First Pool 2

2pm First Pool 1 vs Second Pool 2

Day 5: Saturday 11 July

10am Play for 7th and 8th place

2pm Play for 5th and 6th place

Day 6: Sunday 12 July

10am Play for 3rd and 4th place

2pm Finals

Visit www.polocrosse.co.za for VIP tickets - general admission tickets can be purchased on the day at R20 per person. Entrance for children under 12 is free.

The public are encouraged to support Pasa’s efforts by buying a lucky-draw ticket and stand the chance of winning a magnificent filly,

Progeny from an Australian stock horse stallion, which was imported into South Africa and bred with thoroughbred mares from good racing and sporting lines.

- Supplied

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