KZN Inland needs an urgent transfusion of fresh blood

2009-09-02 00:00

SOUTHERN Gauteng captain Marsha Marescia made a telling comment after her side had beaten KZN Inland 10-0 at the Spar Interprovincial Hockey Tournament (IPT) in Pretoria last Tuesday.

“It’s sad for Inland, a lot of experienced players have stopped playing,” said Marescia, also the Spar South Africa captain and an icon of the game in this country.

Southerns’ coach Ryan Millela also expressed his admiration for Inland’s commitment.

“Inland didn’t drop their heads and must take what they can out of this match and build on it,” said Millela, who piloted his impressive team to the Spar Trophy with a 2-1 final victory over the on-song KZN Coastal Raiders.

The Inland whitewash doesn’t tell the whole story, as they had their fair share of opportunities, including penalty corners, which Marescia was relieved her side had defended. Inland eventually finished in what is becoming their customary position; seventh of eight teams in the A Section.

Inland coach Kegan Walters felt being put in the deep end from the outset against one of South Africa’s hockey heavyweights “would make the players aware of the pace of senior IPT hockey”.

Walters said Inland were in a building phase that would take four years, and playing so many experienced, top SA players would be invaluable in the long run.

“The key is gaining experience for players who come from a relatively small hockey province. We have two schoolgirls in our side,” Walters said. “We need all our schoolgirls available; it takes them out of comfort zones and realise the level they aspire to. Granted, there are mitigating factors like exams.”

New KZN Inland captain, Robyn Pearson was clearly frustrated.

“It’s a pity there is no Inter-City League with Durban; the Inland League doesn’t offer enough competitive hockey,” said last year’s Stellenbosch and WP Peninsula player. “About six Inland players choose SA Country Districts before province. Should be Inland first, then SACD if not selected.” Walters and Inland manager Caroline Storrar agreed.

The other side of the argument was expressed by SACD coach Gregg Bye — and reinforced by SACD captain Kirsten Skead. “I live in Estcourt,” Skead said. “That’s a three-hour round trip to PMB each time for practice and matches. I can’t afford it; so SACD hockey (fifth in the B Section) allows me to keep playing, otherwise I would have to give up.”

All the above serves to illustrate that more dialogue between Durban, PMB and CD hockey is imperative. Sensitive, yet tough administrative decisions are long overdue — it’s that simple — with the greater good of the player paramount.

Senior KZN Inland hockey is bleeding away. Urgent action is needed to staunch the flow before it is too late.

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