Riverside plans to boost hockey on many levels

2014-06-17 00:00

RIVERSIDE Hockey Club in Durban North are busy with exciting events that will boost the game considerably amongst young schoolboy and schoolgirl players.

The Spur Mini Hockey Festival, which is the largest of its kind in SA, took place yesterday while other exciting initiatives include the Kit for kwaMashu Kids, and the Reach programmes.

As the province’s biggest mini-hockey festival, there were over 70 teams with players from the U9, U11 and U13 age groups.

“This was a great way for our enthusiastic young hockey players to prove their mettle on the pitch, while the festival itself provided a fun day out for the whole family. This is part of our mandate to promote sport and specifically hockey as a healthy, social activity within our club’s mantra of pure hockey enjoyment,” festival organiser Natalie Cryer told The Witness.

The Varsity College Kit for kwaMashu Kids programme was launched at the festival. This initiative appealed to all attending the festival to bring old hockey kit to donate to the INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma and kwaMashu) Hockey Club.

Chairperson of Riverside HC Wayne Phillips said that hockey is growing exponentially in these areas. “We’ve had a strong relationship with INK Hockey Club since 2007 and donating unused hockey and other sporting equipment is one of our major ways of supporting them.

“The INK Hockey Club have done incredibly well over the past few years with the U12 boys’ team recently being selected across all sporting codes by eThekwini Municipality to take part in the World Junior Games in Austria. The team depart for Austria today, the day after the festival.

“The Kit for kwaMashu Kids campaign has boosted hockey in the INK areas, providing sporting opportunities for these previously disadvantage communities. Basically, every set of shoes, shin pads and a stick is used by the club’s facilitator, Nathi Ngubane, to recruit another child to his passion of hockey.”

Now in its second year and sponsored by Varsity College, the Reach programme is due to be launched shortly after the festival. This popular programme aims to provide high-level training and league matches to Riverside’s squad of over 120 talented 12- to 15-year-old boys and girls, who will be subjected to a succession of rigorous training sessions.

The squad that is selected next Monday (June 23) will go on to play in a series of matches which will culminate on August 10.

“With one coach to every eight players, the Reach programme provides a high-performance environment where young hockey players can take their game to the next level,” said Riverside HC director of coaching, Derek Field. “The objective of the Reach initiative is to encourage all promising players to remain in the game after they leave school by exposing them to Riverside’s pure hockey enjoyment philosophy.”

Later this month, from June 27 to June 29, KZN Coastal champions Riverside HC will hold the popular Elite Club Challenge, SA’s only national inter-club tournament, where hockey fans will get their fill of the nation’s top players, just back from the Hockey World Cup, in head-to-head combat.

Elite Club Challenge 2014 will feature last year’s runners-up, Wanderers from Gauteng, the Western Province CC and current title holders Riverside. Kearsney, one of KwaZulu-Natal’s top teams, will fill the fourth slot.

“All teams field international players and are current league champions in their provinces. There is no doubt this tournament will provide thrilling hockey entertainment,” Phillips said.

The Elite Club Challenge will also feature mini games for players in the Reach programme in order to expose these young school players to top hockey.

Visit www.riversidehockey.co.za for more information.

“With one coach to every eight players, the Reach programme provides a high-performance environment where young hockey players can take their game to the next level.”

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