Where does KZN Inland men’s hockey go beyond IPT?

2009-08-27 00:00

AN extremely well organised National Men’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament ended at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf on Saturday with KZN Coas­tals beating Southern Gauteng 2-1 in the final.

The KZN Inland Hockey Association’s administrative arm deserves a hearty pat on the back, but what of the two Inland teams that took part — and the future?

Jock Coombes, KZN Inland first team coach, former SA director of coaching and SA player, has definite thoughts:

“As a small province, with a very young team [11 players under 22], fifth place is good,” said Coombes.

“Inland were in the toughest pool, and who knows how well we would have done had we been in the other pool. And among other fine perfor­mances, we came very close to beating the eventual winners [Inland drew 2-2 with KZN Coastal].”

Regarding the local premier league, Coombes is adamant that, despite the lack of depth, it would be shortsighted to try to spread the top talent [PMB Varsity are essentially the Inland team as well] among the clubs to make for more even competition.

“By spreading the talent it will only pull the top players down to a lower le­vel of commitment, work ethic, training and so on, and lower the overall provincial standard. And that, for Inland, is not the answer.”

Meanwhile, former SA captain and coach Brian Edwards said his Inland B side learnt a lot and their ninth position in the B Section Shield only tells a small part of the story.

Edwards said the majority of Inland B players had never played a senior provincial tournament before.

“The fact that so many players from a province with a small player base were exposed to this level of hockey is beneficial,” Edwards said.

“It’s all about growing the game,” he added.

“I analysed how many Inland players would have made a combined KZN Inland and KZN Coastal team, as it used to be, and I feel only about four would have made the A team and four the B team.

“That is to the total detriment of the game,” said Edwards. “Instead of two KZN teams at IPT, now there are four. Instead of eight Inland players we had over 30.

“There was also a high number of KZN players in the SA Country Districts team, who finished second in the B Section, so the talent in the province [Coastal won the A Section Shield title and Mynahs did very well in the B Section] is evident.”

Edwards said it was imperative that the old Intercity League (top PMB and Durban club teams) be brought back.

“Regional leagues must be promo­ted. In KZN, Coastals and Inland can help each other, and this should happen with Northerns and Southern Gauteng, as well as with North West.”

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