Exciting times for SA

2012-09-25 00:00

THE locally based contingent of the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team flew from Johannesburg to Dublin last night, with a busy two weeks ahead for them.

Joining them today will be the overseas-based players and support staff.

Prior to the Champions Challenge in Dublin, which takes place from Saturday to next Sunday, the SA team will launch into three training matches this week, against India (6 pm SA time today), Australia (6 pm SA time tomorrow) and Scotland (noon on Thursday).

When the tournament starts on Saturday, a relatively new-look South Africa, with six new faces after the London 2012 Olympic Games and without big-name players will have the opportunity to launch the new cycle against Australia, USA, Belgium, India, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

World record goal-scorer Pietie Coetzee is not in the team because of work commitments.

Progress from 12th to 10th in the world rankings, the first time since 2003 that the women in green and gold have broken into the elite top 10, is proof that an intense two years since Giles Bonnet took the reins are bearing fruit.

“The aim is to emulate New Zealand and move in the next two years from 10th place in the world into the world top six, and we are excited by what steps we have taken and what is possible,” said the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team head coach.

“The coaching staff spent a good part of the London Olympics assessing the team’s needs and requirements going forward and we are absolutely certain of a few points — the need for speed, the need for pressure, the need for mental toughness and the need for improving decision making,” said Bonnet.

“We are committed in the new cycle to the 2014 Hockey World Cup to implementing these key learnings from London.”

The former SA men’s captain and coach, a Highbury and Michaelhouse old boy, said the staff had been researching the methodology of cognitive decision making, exploring new ways in training, and off and on the field, to improve decision making, especially under pressure.

“We have been incredibly fortunate through Raymond van Niekerk, head of global marketing of our sponsors, Investec, to be placed with Neurozone, a company perfectly aligned with the direction we are busy with,” said Bonnet.

“We are very excited about the next 24-month cycle and feel that we can make a quantum leap in this period, focused on the key learnings from London. We are committed in the new cycle to the World Cup to implementing these key learnings from London.”

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