Lategan all set to lead SA U21 women

2012-10-13 00:00

IZELLE Lategan’s experience on tour as a member of the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team at the Champions Challenge in Dublin last week will provide her with the perfect platform to lead the SA U21 side during the Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier Tournament that takes place at Randburg Hockey Stadium from today to next Saturday.

The equivalent men’s tournament takes place alongside the women’s event and the SA U21 men and women begin on Sunday when the ladies face Namibia at 2 pm and the lads tackle Zimbabwe at 4 pm.

Lategan scored a hat-trick, including the golden goal in extra time, in SA’s 3-2 win over India in Dublin, a tournament in which South Africa finished fifth.

“The third goal was a moment I cannot describe, but going into extra-time I thought about the strong mental approach which the team had been talking about all week and I knew that if the opportunity came up I had to take it,” said Lategan.

“I learnt so much at Champs Challenge, how to handle pressure and how to function well in tough situations.”

Earmarked for big things from an early age and inspired by mom Zelda’s unfailing support, Lategan played two years for SA 16 and two years for the SA U18 side.

In the last month of school, at the age of 18, Lategan was invited to a national camp and was selected for the Investec South Africa team that played world champions Argentina at University of the Free State Hockey Centre in Bloemfontein. Now a second year human movement sciences student at UFS with an eye to going into teaching, the Kovsies girls was full of praise for the senior SA coaching staff.

“They are very supportive and I have learnt a lot from all of them and my role with the SA U21 team this week is to motivate and support my team-mates in the same way. Lindsey Wright, the SA U21 head coach, is my mentor and I think it is important that captain and coach have a close bond.

Saturday sees the women’s event feature Kenya against Zimbabwe at 12 noon and Ghana against Namibia at 2 pm. The men’s action has Ghana up against Kenya at 10 am and Egypt engaging Zimbabwe at 4 pm.

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