RECOGNISING that the future of South African hockey lies in the nationwide talent-base at school level, former and current professional players and coaches will be travelling to Pretoria, Ballito, Potchefstroom, and Stellenbosch for the remainder of the year to share their knowledge and skills with developing players as part of the Investec Hockey Academy’s high-performance courses.While there is still much growth to be achieved in the sport in SA, many local icons are hoping that, by sharing their expertise with school players, they can create a solid foundation for further individual growth in future players to become more competitive on an international level.“We need to develop hockey from a grass-roots level by recreating the requirements and conditions of a senior training programme into various programmes of all ages,” says SA Women’s Hockey player Shelley Russell.“I truly believe that our current national players and coaches have the capacity to change the future of women’s hockey by laying a foundation for others to follow,” says Sheldon Rostron, SA Women’s Hockey Coach.“We hope to make the sports code of hockey attractive to potential young players; broadening the talent pool, making hockey more competitive, and raising the standard in South Africa,” says SA Women’s Hockey player Quanita Bobbs.Driven by a passion for the sport, the Investec Hockey Academy’s coaches also include SA Women’s Hockey players Sulette Damons, Ilse Davids, Erin Hunter, Kara Botes, Stephanie Baxter, and Nicolene Terblanche, as well as FIH Umpire Michelle Joubert, sports scientist Maryke Eloff, and renowned sports physiotherapist Ruan Fourie. Together they will be providing theoretical knowledge, skills training, and an understanding of what it takes “behind-the-scenes” to succeed in sport.“We focus on the holistic development of hockey players, so not only on the tactical and technical aspects of the game but also a vested focus on the development of mental toughness and sport wellbeing. This five-aspect approach makes this Academy unique and invaluable,” says former SA Women’s Hockey player Louise de Jager.“We teach them nutrition, skills, and tactics as well as other leadership skills and qualities one needs in top sports and international hockey,” says Rostron.According to the Investec Hockey Academy’s coaches, school coaches are integral to the future growth and standard of the future of SA hockey.“We would like to see more in-depth education of the coaches as they will have a quicker and greater impact on the players throughout the country, especially at a junior level as this is where good habits are implemented and can be sustainable,” says former national coach Lindsey Wright.“We want to help coaches better their understanding of how to develop all five aspects involved in sport performance. At these courses they get to interact with some of the best coaches in the country to develop their knowledge of the game and coaching aspects,” says de Jager.Offering courses for players aged eight to 18, and coaches of all levels, the Investec Hockey Academy’s tour started at St Mary’s School in Pretoria last month and will be at Ashton College in Ballito on October 6 and October 7, the North-West University in Potchefstroom on October 13 and October 14, and Bloemhof School in Stellenbosch on October 19 and October 20.“The youth coming through have potential and it is our job to guide processes that will ensure their success. We thrive on the idea that we will leave a greater legacy,” says Rostron.For more information about the Investec Hockey Academy, or to register for a course, visit www.investechockeyacademy.com or contact Bernadine Miller on 031 940 5565. — Supplied.