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Ken Borland



Hockey’s junior stars are talented & transformed 0

Posted on May 03, 2016 by Ken

 

The South African men’s U21 team played in the final of the Greenfields Senior Interprovincial Nationals in Randburg on Saturday, showing that there is plenty of young talent coming through the ranks. But they are also thoroughly transformed with eight players of colour in the squad, including six Black Africans, showing that hockey is heading away from the representivity frustrations that have dogged them in the past.

And while “quotas” is a word bandied about by the older generation, it is not a hip word when it comes to hockey’s rising young talent.

“It hasn’t been difficult at all to find players of colour for the team because these guys have come through the age-groups, they’ve played together in the U16s and U18s, where there is a heck of a lot of good quality. The core of this side have played Tests together for the SA U18s and made the Junior Olympics semi-finals with the SA U17s, both under Neville Rothman, my assistant coach.

“So there are no quota – I hate that word – players in the team. They were all born after 1995 and have played in every national team together, so there is no baggage. They say it themselves in team meetings that the colour of your skin makes no difference. There’s a very positive feeling in this squad, there’s such a positive culture,” SA U21 coach Garreth Ewing said.

The players of colour in the current squad that is beating seasoned professionals at the senior IPT are composed midfielder Tyson Dlungwana, defender Nduduza Lembethe, Ryan Julius, an elusive runner with the ball, forward Khumo Mokale, the skilful Nqobile Ntuli, pacy Tevin Kok, solid Amkelwa Letuka and goalkeeper Siyavuya Nolutshungu, and they would comfortably be playing in this IPT for their provincial sides were they not on national duty.

“Obviously we do pay close attention to the players of colour, but a lot of them are our best players. Some of them are going to be superstars. They have a long way to go, but their ability and decision-making under pressure is already so good. I can’t wait to see where they all go, six of them already have full national caps,” Ewing said.

Ewing, who has considerable experience coaching both locally and internationally, clearly likes the emphasis on bringing through players of colour that has to be there if South African hockey are to get back to where they want to be – in the upper echelons of the world game.

“What is coming through underneath shows that there is so much potential. We’re not afraid of targets, we embrace them. Things don’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there. The guys play with such joy and style, their hockey is so attractive,” Ewing said.

Most encouragingly, Black coaches are also starting to come through. The losing semi-finalists, KZN Raiders and the Northerns Blues, are coached by Sihle Ntuli and Krinesan Moodley respectively. WP Peninsula are coached by Denzil Dolley and the team they played in the B Section final, KZN Mynahs, are mentored by Sharmin Naidoo

Patrick Tshutshani is Ewing’s counterpart with the junior women, Ryan Pillay coached the Western Province women’s team and even the Mpumalanga women’s team have a Black African coach in Brighty Mshaba.

Numerous other players of colour have shone with Jermaine Johnson and Julian Hykes both playing key roles in getting Southern Gauteng into the men’s final, while Pierre de Voux of Western Province and KZN’s Mohamed Mea are two newer players that are going to have the national selectors’ eyes on them.

The story is the same in the women’s section: Southern Gauteng are going to take on Northerns Blues in the final with Sanani Mangisa their stalwart in goal and Toni Marks and Lisa Hawker two of their man threats up front.

Northerns have Mmatshepo Modipane in goal.

But there is a challenge that SA Hockey will need outside help to overcome and, as ever, it is a financial one.

“The financial challenges for the previously disadvantaged players is huge. Consider the cost of going to our world cup – and the players have to pay! My biggest fear is having to leave someone behind because they can’t afford it,” Ewing says sombrely.

Mosehle makes the honeymoon worthwhile for the Titans 0

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Ken

 

Mangaliso Mosehle has enjoyed an extended honeymoon phase in the Titans’ ranks and this weekend the 25-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman repaid the faith coach Rob Walter has shown in him with his extraordinary match-winning innings in the RamSlam T20 Challenge final against the Dolphins.

Mosehle has always been highly-rated by the Titans, his talent evident in how sweetly he strikes the ball, but he has struggled to convert his ability into consistent runs. Batting averages of 18.79 (FC), 24.47 (List A) and 11.60 (T20) for the Titans in the three different formats before his sensational 87 off just 39 balls against the Dolphins speak to an unfulfilled talent whose chances may have been running out.

“People only see the end product in the match, they don’t see the amount of work Mangi has done behind the scenes. I’m very chuffed for him and I hope he now believes in himself as much as I believe in him. There’s definitely no question about his skill, but it’s been a battle for him. Guys just need a defining moment in their careers and there’s no greater stage to have one on than in a final,” a delighted Walter said after the Titans’ seven-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare.

“It’s a relief because I’ve been getting starts and I needed to kick on. This innings will give me a lot of confidence because for me it’s most important to get past the 20s, and I really did what I needed to do tonight,” Mosehle said after his highest T20 score for the Titans and just his second half-century.

Mother Cricket is at her most fickle when it comes to the T20 game, but the Titans completed an exceptional campaign with their ninth victory in 11 games, eight of them achieved in comfortable fashion.

“It’s like a dream to win nine out of 11 matches, that’s a pretty decent campaign, and it’s been thanks to the right strategy based on the personnel we have. All 15 players in the squad offer something different and we use eight bowlers because we have them. We’ve tried to match the weaknesses of the opposition as we perceive them with the bowlers we have and it’s fantastic that we have guys who can offer all the options.

“You’ve got to hand it to the team, they’ve been able to step up under pressure. It’s been an outstanding season,” Walter said.

 

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