Inland hockey head pleased with teams’ efforts during testing year

2013-11-14 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Inland Hockey Association’s president Gary Carson is a reasonably satisfied man as far as the provincial sides are concerned.

“We won the national interprovincial indoor hockey men’s tournament (IPT) for the fourth successive year. We were very unlucky not to make the semi-finals of the SA U21 men’s IPT, and came seventh at the national men’s IPT. This was an outstanding achievement considering the relative lack of player numbers in what is a small province compared to the hockey heavyweights based in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” he told The Witness while looking back on the season.

On the women’s front, the senior side finished fourth at the national indoor IPT and came agonisingly close to promotion back into the A section at the outdoor IPT, only to lose to Witwatersrand in the penalty shoot-out in a final that they had dominated.

However, it was at club level that KZN Inland’s hockey suffered terribly. Lack of floodlights due to the electricity fiasco meant that league and cup matches had to be moved away from the AB Jackson Greenfields turf, creating havoc with the fixture list and severely disrupting the flow of the season.

At the provincial awards evening held recently, Justin Domleo won the KZN Inland men’s indoor and outdoor Player of the Year trophies while Caitlyn Seegers did the same in the women’s section.

Inland also had the distinction of having two national coaches.

SA men’s team head coach Charlie Pereira resides at Curry’s Post in the KZN Midlands. The chartered accountant somehow juggles a full-time accounting practice with the virtual full-time demands of leading and guiding a national sports team that plays at Olympic and at World Cup level.

Overlooking the Greenfields turf on the Pietermaritzburg campus, Fabian Gregory is the director of coaching at UKZN. He also fulfils the exceptionally demanding role of being the assistant coach of the South Africa women’s hockey team.

The achievement of having two top national coaches in the province is remarkable for such a small province in terms of player numbers.

Aside from the two coaches, further underlining KZN Inland’s vital role in providing for the national teams is the fact that there are no fewer than six players in the SA men’s side.

Jethro Eustice (ex-Maritzburg Varsity), Clint Panther (ex-Michaelhouse), Wade Paton, Taine Paton and Geoff Abbott (all ex-Maritzburg College; Abbott was also at PMB Varsity) and Tim Drummond (ex-Hilton) all learnt much of their hockey in the city and its surrounds.

Just down the road, the invaluable work done in Durban and surrounds is exemplified by the presence of debutant Greg Last, formerly of Kearsney and Durban Varsity — who took the place of Matt Guise-Brown (ex-Maritzburg College) who has exam commitments — and Mohamed Mea (ex-Westville and currently at Durban Varsity) in the side.

The SA women’s side has seen Phume Mbande (ex-Carter) come in for injured goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa (ex- Epworth), while Celia Evans (ex-GHS) is back in the team. Durban’s Kelly Madsen (ex-St Mary’s DSG in Kloof) and Lenise Marais (ex-New Forest High) add to KZN institutions’ contribution to the national teams.

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