A confirmed fanatic from an early age, Madibaz Sport hockey manager Cheslyn Gie realised one of his dreams when he was included in the South African men’s management team for the World League semi-finals in Johannesburg last month.
Gie, who was born and bred in Port Elizabeth, has been in charge of hockey at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth since 2001 and doubles up as the men’s premier league coach.
He has now taken his career to the next level after his association with the national team, which came about after a lengthy period of success with Madibaz, as well as his mentoring of the Addo Elephants in last year’s inaugural Premier Hockey League (PHL) in South Africa.
“Fabian Gregory, the national men’s coach, has been impressed with how we have developed the game at Mandela University in the past five years,” said Gie.
He added that his work with the Addo Elephants, who lost in the final of the PHL, saw him receive an opportunity as a trainer with the SA team for the Summer Series against the Netherlands, Germany, England and Belgium earlier this year.
“After these tests he asked me if I would be available for the World League semi-finals in Johannesburg and I was obviously more than willing to be involved.”
Gie said he had learnt a great deal under Gregory at the world tournament and was looking forward to implementing some of the ideas with the Madibaz teams.
“I have always wanted to be involved at a national senior level and this was fantastic for my development as a coach.”
Attending Fontein Primary and Gelvandale High, Gie was introduced to hockey at the age of six and subsequently turned out for Blue Bells Hockey Club, where his father was the secretary.
He played for his school’s first team from Grade 8 and since then his career has been littered with provincial representation after making the Eastern Province U16 team.
Gie, who lives in Gelvandale, went on to represent EP Schools and was chosen for the SA Schools team in 1992.
He joined the Cavaliers in the premier league where he was coached by Gary Dolley, the first person to identify him as a potential coach.
“I played for EP U21 and the EP Settlers provincial teams before Gary gave me my first coaching job as a development coach for juniors at the Dyke fields in Schauderville.
“I then attended coaching clinics and achieved my level one, two and three accreditation.”
Gie’s coaching career moved up a notch when he took on the job for the PE Technikon A side in 2003 and, when the technikon and the university merged in 2005, he was put in charge of the men’s second team.
“After Jody Paul took up a position in England in 2006, I graduated to the premier men’s A team.”
Gie said he had a simple philosophy on coaching.
“The best form of defence is attack,” he said.
However, he added that there were key elements to coaching to ensure players reached their potential.
“We need to concentrate more in developing players’ technical skills at a junior level. I also feel, as coaches, we can contribute to their holistic development.”
Watching a player and a team achieve their potential is the most satisfying part of being a coach, said Gie. Conversely, he added that it was frustrating when talented players did not reach their full potential.
He lists his role at the World League semi-finals as one of his career highlights.
Others include contesting four finals at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament from 2012 to 2017, winning the EP premier league four times in the last five years and claiming the Junior Africa Cup with the SA U21 men’s team in Cairo in 2008.
Having been involved at a national U21 level as a video analyst and trainer, he said this taste of international hockey had given him motivation to improve even more as a coach.
“One of my big aims is to do an International Hockey Federation (FIH) coaching course. There are very few coaches in SA with this qualification,” said Gie.
“I also dream of winning the USSA title and a men’s interprovincial, while attending events such as the World Cup, Olympics and the Commonwealth Games as a coach or trainer are all on my bucket list.”