The Madibaz men’s and women’s hockey teams won both the premier league titles and the Knockout competition in Eastern Province this year.
In a season of special success for the Nelson Mandela University, the men continued their dominance of the league by taking their fifth trophy in a row.
Madibaz Sport hockey manager and men’s coach Cheslyn Gie said their conditioning had played a big part in their success.
“I believe our superior fitness was the major difference,” he said. “We were often able to finish as the stronger team and that was obviously a big advantage.”
Losing only one league match during the season, the Nelson Mandela University team drew two other games and won a total of 11 fixtures. They finished on 57 points, well ahead of the 46 points of second-placed Gelvan Hurricanes.
He added that there would be a strong sense of continuity going into 2020 as they would probably only lose about four players.
With teamwork being a key part of their planning, Gie said several players stood out during the season.
“Our captain, Alex Penhall, led our defence extremely well and vice-captain Chad Cairncross scored some vital penalty corners.
“Jared de Kock has improved immensely and played in the Premier Hockey League, while Ignatius Malgraff was outstanding as usual and has just been included in the SA men’s Olympic squad.
“In addition, goalkeeper Eddie Ramohahle, who is in his first year, had a solid season.”
Madibaz women’s coach Andrew Beynon said the double triumph this year was reward for some hard work following a tough start to their programme.
“With 12 first-years in the squad we always knew Varsity Hockey [in May] was going to be a major challenge,” he said.
“But we had a strong finish to USSA [the University Sport South Africa week] last year and realised that it was a case of building for the future.
“So for us to go through the league season unbeaten with a good, but young, squad was a big positive for us.”
He recognised the contribution of skipper Hannah Knott-Craig.
“She was immense for us throughout the year, helping to gel the senior players with the young members in the squad.
“It was also fitting to give former captain Lauren Nina a special send-off in her final year.”