Schoolboys up their game

2015-04-29 09:22

THE Greenfields South Africa Under-21 Men’s Interprovincial hockey tournament ended at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf on Saturday afternoon, and day six was a high note for the young KZN Inland U21 team when they outplayed North West 6-1 to finish seventh in this 10-team event.

With eight schoolboys in the 18-player (11 starting, seven rolling subs) KZN Inland U21 team it was always going to be a steep learning curve against seasoned opponents two or three years older - and our schoolboys came through with flying colours.

The local schoolboys who took on a quality of player and team that they are not used to at school level, were Maritzburg College captain and double SA U18 selection Tyson Dlungwana and Red Army team-mates Amkelwa Letuka, Landon Campbell and Courtney Halle, while the talented St Charles College lads were Nicholas Church, Luke Barnard, Mitchell Currie and Timothy Kirkman.

And what made the challenge of this flagship tournament even more daunting was that due to school, university and the other pressing commitments, the 18 players (the other 10 were largely first-year students) were never once able to train with a full complement of personnel.

The lone practice match that was eventually arranged where all 18 would be present had to be cancelled and this left an untried, untested group going into the tournament.

However, this did not deter the eight schoolboys, who play for two successful school first teams.

Indeed the unbeaten Maritzburg College first team are currently ranked number one in South Africa and have an amazing 83% win record so far.

Yet is was the lack of team practice that undid an even better performance by the Inland U21 team. An example is the narrow 2-1 defeat to eventual fourth-placed WP Peninsula. It should have been a victory, had set-piece play - stuff you have to work on in training - not been so poor.

That said, this experience can only benefit the boys as the SA U18 Interprovincial Tournament looms

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