Despite losing several senior players, the NMMU-Madibaz men’s hockey team will be striving to repeat last year’s effort at the University Sport South Africa tournament in Johannesburg next week.
Hockey manager Cheslyn Gie said they were eager to emulate their 2016 achievement of third when they compete at the University of Johannesburg and Wits from June 28 to July 2.
Although not looking too far ahead, he said they would target a position in the semifinals.
“We know it will be a tough week and the favourites will be Maties, who are the defending champions,” he said.
“Then Tuks and UJ will be up there as they have recruited top players, while Wits will also be looking to do well after investing heavily in their playing resources.
“We have lost some senior players through injuries and some have graduated, but will definitely be aiming for a spot in the top four.”
Gie added that the Hockey World League tournament, which followed the USSA week, could have an impact in the team’s fortunes.
“Players selected for the national squad will not be allowed to play at the USSA tournament and this could make things very interesting.”
He said they had just undergone a two-week training camp in preparation of the USSA week, which underlined the important role it played in their plans.
“It gives us an excellent chance to compare ourselves to our peers and it is also the qualifier for the Varsity Hockey competition in 2018.”
Besides the training camp, he said they had lined up several friendly games to complete their preparations.
Gie said strikers Ignatius Malgraff and Cerezo Comerasamy, links Chad Cairncross and Kirwin Christoffels and goalkeeper Muzimmal Sheik would have major roles to play.
Madibaz coach Michael van Rensburg said he wanted the women’s team to show some improvement on their seventh place of last year, with the top six their initial goal.
After competing in the Varsity Hockey competition this year, he said they had been working on a number of areas.
“In terms of our conditioning the squad have had a four-week fitness programme and the results have been pleasing so far. We still have a way to go but we are in a better space now than prior to Varsity Hockey.”
Van Rensburg added that on-field training had been held three times a week, culminating in a training camp last weekend.
He said their defence would be organised by the reliable skills of Luzaan Potgieter and Zimasa Dunywa, with squad leader Caitlin Gouws leading the attack from midfield.
“We also have the experience of talented attacking midfielder Kiona Sequiera, while Jayde Viljoen is a solid defensive midfielder.”
From a mental perspective, Van Rensburg said several sport psychology sessions with Port Elizabeth-based clinical psychologist Wesley Kew had made a big difference.
“This has been of tremendous value as we look to move into a new era we are creating for NMMU women’s hockey,” he said.
“We look forward to the Eastern Cape getting behind us as we strive to establish ourselves during a rebuilding phase with a young side that will aim to make the region proud.”