Although they will be missing some senior players, there is still plenty of experience in the University of Johannesburg men’s and women’s hockey squads for next week’s annual University Sport South Africa tournament.
Jointly hosted by UJ and Wits, the event in Johannesburg from June 28 to July 2 comes shortly before the national teams compete in the Hockey World League tournament, also in Johannesburg from July 8 to 23.
UJ hockey manager Elize le Roux said they would likely be without several key players due to national commitments.
“Depending on the final selection, we could be missing Lisa Deetlefs, Carmen Smith, Tyson Dlugwana and Garreth Heyns, but we do have other senior provincial players stepping in.”
She said young stars such as Kirsten Paton, Cheneal Raubenheimer (both SA U21) and Zeena Martin (SA U18), along with Namibian national Phia Gerber and seniors like Ashleigh Datnow, Lisa Hawker, Kerry Trebble, captain Robyn Johnson and Isabella da Rocha formed a strong nucleus in the women’s squad.
“Among the men we have SA U21 players Courtney Halle, Amkelwe Letuka and Kyle Lion-Cachet, plus the experience of Taylor Dart and Che February to provide good depth.”
She added that their coaching staff of Garreth Ewing (men), who is also the senior national trainer for the Hockey World League, and ex-national player Lance Louw (women) were part of an experienced management team who would play a major role in ensuring the teams were ready for the Ussa challenge.
“The pool stages are really tough in Ussa as you need to be on song from the start because one loss can count you out,” she said.
UJ have been a strong force in South African varsity hockey, but Le Roux said they would not be looking too far ahead.
“We always aim for the top four as a starting point and once the pool fixtures are done, we can then focus on the play-off matches.”
She added that the Ussa tournament gave them a chance to test themselves against their peers, while also creating chances for younger players to prove themselves.
“We are in a rebuilding phase with both the men’s and women’s teams, with the women gearing up for next year and the men looking ahead at 2019,” she said.