Hockey talent not coming through

2009-02-16 00:00

SOUTH African women’s hockey coach Jenny King wants more synergy between the respective national coaches and teams.

“I am not excited about the talent coming through,” she told The Witness. “If you look at our hockey-playing numbers in South Africa, we should have 30 young players knocking at the door of the senior side.”

Half-a-dozen new players were brought into the South African squad for last week’s series against Germany in Stellenbosch, which the visitors won 3-0.

“There is not enough co-ordination between coaches at the different levels and I am not convinced at the buy-in from the junior sides,” she said.

King said if hockey had more money coaches would be able to meet more frequently, so the same coaching principles could be sorted out face to face.

The Spar SA coach, who was assisted by technical coaching expert Ian Jennings of England in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, where SA finished 11th, will be attending an FIH coaching course at the Champions Challenge.

King said she would be bringing in sports psychologists this year to work on the players’ mental preparation so they can step up to the next level post-Beijing.

Meanwhile, Spar SA captain Marsha Marescia said she is learning much playing club hockey in Holland, the world’s top league.

The midfielder said what strikes her most is the emphasis on technical training from a young age.

“Tactical training is also a big focus, so it is easier for youngsters to slot in at the next level.

“It is at the junior level that South Africa must emphasise this focus,” she said.

Southern Gauteng’s Marescia, who mastered hockey in Durban, returned to SA for the pre-series camp and the Test matches against Germany and returns to Holland at the end of the month.

King said her goal is to settle on the top 18 to 20 players by the time the Champions Challenge comes around in October — and there are a number of international matches leading up to it.

Apart from the Africa Cup in July, which doubles as the continent’s qualifying event for the 2010 Hockey World Cup finals, there is a three-Test series against Australia plus the annual Spar Four Nations Challenge, which will take place in Durban.

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