The University of Johannesburg men’s hockey team will be looking to improve on last year’s fifth placing when the University Sport South Africa tournament takes place next month.
The annual week, which incorporates men’s and women’s sides, will be held at Stellenbosch University from July 1 to 5.
A year ago the UJ teams finished fifth (men) and sixth (women) as they went through a rebuilding phase.
“It wasn’t our best, but we had young players and the opposition in this tournament is always tough,” said UJ hockey manager Elize le Roux.
“We are working towards making the semifinals and the ladies showed what they could do in the six-team Varsity Hockey, almost making the top four. Several results went down to the wire.
“For the men a top four spot would be realistic, but we still have a relatively youthful squad as we continue to build, so we will have to work hard for this.”
The men’s team, under the coaching of Garreth Ewing and Lance Louw, will have players such as Taylor Dart, Courtney Halle, Kyle Lion-Cachet, Andile Ndlovu, Spencer Botes and Che February leading the way.
Botes was the top goal-scorer at this year’s U21 interprovincial.
The women will also want to lift their performances after coming close to the top four in the Varsity Hockey tournament earlier this year.
“The one big thing that came out was that we need to make our opportunities count,” said Le Roux of the women’s team. “We were close in many games, but just lacked a bit of finishing.”
Le Roux said events such as USSA played important roles for both the varsity and the players on an individual level.
“We rely on good results to build our structure for hockey and, of course, we are competitive and like to win,” she said.
“But we manage our performance cycles around our intake and strength of players.
“We also want students to get the best exposure and student experience with events like these. Good results at a USSA event can help to secure the future of hockey at UJ.”
Among the women, guided by former SA player Tsoanelo Pholo, national representative Kristen Paton will have a key role, but Le Roux emphasised that nothing short of a team effort would be enough to reap any success for either team.