Central Hockey aims to expand development

2017-10-31 06:00

The members of Central Hockey Club hope to change the face of South African hockey in the next decade.

Chairperson Ron Hendrickse hopes that the expansion of the club’s neighbourhood league system will bear fruit and bring outlying communities closer to the level of participation already experienced in the central suburbs.

He says the phenomenon is nothing new to them, stating that they were first exposed to the concept at Clover Crescent in 1962.

“We have had the junior division, because senior clubs had to have junior teams, otherwise they couldn’t play in the senior division.

“It is the same concept this time around. There is nothing new, it is not rocket science. It is the basic development programme; you have to have youth in order to have senior teams,” he says.

The programme has grown so much that they have had to move activities to Vygieskraal.

Hendrickse says the children come from all over the greater Cape Town area.

“We have two primary schools at Hartleyvale, Morgenson from Hanover Park and Vanguard Primary. Then we had four primary schools that could not be accommodated there, because of the capacity, but it is good because there is mass participation over there. It is the first time they take on a festival of this nature and we support them because we are all together in this.”

The neighbourhood league programme usually runs for eight weeks between August and September.

The club currently facilitates nine primary schools from the area at Vygies­kraal, which is one of the seven hockey hubs within the Western Province ­federation.

Alroy Oliphant, who is a member of the club, is very close to the programme and helps by rallying support from the corporate sector, as well as donations from ­elsewhere.

“As a six year old, my son had about three or four of these festivals behind his name. You have Mustapha Cassiem and his Dayaan Cassiem, who is now representing South Africa. Bruce Jacobs is a coach over here and he came from Clover Crescent where he started.

“The success of this type of activity definitely has rewards in the sense that we can now pick up players and be very proud to say that some of those boys are here as part of the coaching team.

“We are driving another initiative to get the schools to have the means and facilities to support this kind of programme,” says Oliphant.

Oliphant and Hendrickse have enlisted the help of more established hockey schools in the area such as Bishops, Rondebosch and Pinelands.

“We always say that we have the systems going here and our database of schools is growing. Obviously, we would like to see this growing in other areas that don’t have access, like Mitchell’s Plain, so we are making a plan to make sure that our numbers grow here, but this is open to everybody,” Oliphant adds.

Hendrickse points out that it has taken a long time for the development programme to properly gather legs at a national level after unification of the federations in 1992.

“This is almost like a second chance at doing it properly. That is why I tell them we [Central Hockey Club] are on the front foot now, because our model is in tact and in place. If we can take this through for 10 years, we will change South African hockey. Levelling the playing field is what we always talk about. We have the surface here, but we don’t have footwear and that is a challenge,” says Hendrickse.

He adds that having the children play is not always enough, because something as basic as having the correct kit stands in the way of progress.

Oliphant says the programme has clear objectives. Now that they have visible growth and a database from which to work, he feels that now is the time for the private sector to make their presence felt.

“It has every opportunity for any company who has a very clear corporate social investment plan to come and reach out to us,” he says.

“We can make things happen that fit their requirements, but in order to play this sport on these new surfaces, the one thing that you got to do is to be kitted out with the basics. That is our biggest challenge. If we can sit down with a company who is keen, we can do this any time of the year, not just for eight weeks between August and September.”


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