SA Hockey causes stir with 'volunteer' coaching ad

Sheldon Rostron (Supplied)
Sheldon Rostron (Supplied)

Cape Town - The position of head coach of the South African national women's hockey team has been advertised as a "voluntary position"

It is a stark reminder of just one of several battles the country's minority sports face. 

Last week, it was announced that women's coach Sheldon Rostron stepped down as coach of the women's side. 

While the thought of a national coach not earning a cent might come as a surprise to sports fans around South Africa, it has been that way since 2010

"In 2009 when SA Hockey went through an organisational change, we converted full-time positions to volunteer positions," SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni told Sport24 on Thursday.

"We get a ton of applications and when people realise that it's not a full-time position or that there is no salary, they obviously can't stand for the job. We thought this would make the process a lot easier and save a lot of time."

It is the first time that the post has been clearly advertised as a 'volunteer' post.

"It is exactly the same for the men's side," Langeni added.

"Every coach we have is a full-time employee somewhere else."

It is the same with the national players. Most are students or full-time employees elsewhere, and they do not earn a cent from playing for their country. 

"The only time when players earn money in this country is when they play in the Premier Hockey League, which is funded by the Department of Sport," Langeni explained.

"SA Hockey is an amateur organisation."

Langeni has been involved with SA Hockey's struggles over the years and was helpless when both the men's and women's national sides were told that they could not go to the 2016 Rio Olympics, despite having qualified as continental champions. 

As with most things, money is the biggest issue the sport faces, but Langeni remains hopeful that things will change and that, one day, her organisation will be able to pay a national coach.

"We would hope so," she said.

"But because of the economic changes that we find ourselves in currently, that is not a situation we have right now."

As of the July 2018 field hockey rankings, both SA's men's and women's sides were ranked 15th in the world.

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