Jonathan Cook writes:
The Spar South African women’s indoor hockey team has been named to take part in a five-Test series against Namibia and participate in the Spar Four Nations tournament in Durban and Pietermaritzburg next month.
Coach Lennie Botha said the SA team is a mix of experienced players as well as newcomers, who will get the opportunity to be tested at international level.
“Some of our key senior players are out for a variety of reasons but last week in Pietermaritzburg we saw one of the best SA women’s interprovincial indoor hockey tournaments for a long time, which saw a number of players putting their hands up for national selection.”
Botha said the SA selection panel also kept in mind that they need to look forward to the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup.
The SA team will meet in Durban for a two-and-a-half day training camp from December 8, which will include practice matches against Durban’s Pro Series indoor (PSi) boys U16s in preparation for the Namibia series.
The SA coach said Namibia are always a fit, well-prepared outfit.
“Our neighbours’ indoor hockey has grown, the level of play has improved significantly, so it will be interesting to see how our new players cope and how our team gels as a unit.”
The Spar SA/Namibia Test series sees the first three matches on December 10, and 11 (double header, morning and evening) at St Anne’s Diocesan School for Girls in Pietermaritzburg, to coincide with the PSi Nationals U14 boys and girls competition in the KZN capital.
The fourth and fifth Tests (another double header) on December 12 are at Danville Park Girls School (in the morning) and the UKZN Westville campus (in the evening).
The five matches will provide a good introduction for the SA and Namibia teams ahead of the Spar Four Nations, where they will be joined by the Australian and USA national teams.
“Apart from the challenge that Namibia provide, Australia are an experienced team who will be very tough competitors for our SA ladies, as will the USA, who are also planning ahead for the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup,” Botha added.
All eight Test matches in the Spar Four Nations take place at the UKZN Westville campus in Durban. From December 14 to 17 there will be back-to-back Tests involving the four countries, culminating in the final on December 18.
These matches coincide with the boys and girls PSi U16 and U18 Nationals in Durban and will offer the juniors great exposure to senior international competition.
There is no entry fee for the SA/Namibia series. Admission for the Spar Four Nations is R20 for the general public.
Amore de Wet, Celia Evans, Stephanie Baxter (North West); Amy Greaves (KZN Inland); Hanli Hattingh, Jessica Glass, Megan Robertson, Nicole la Fleur (Western Province); Jessica O’Connor, Kara Stella, Shelly Higgo (KZN Raiders); Sarah Allan (Southern Gauteng).
Team management: Lennie Botha (coach), TJ Smith (assistant coach), Taryn de Winnaar (manager), Brighty Mashaba (video analyst).
SA women vs Namibia five-Test series
1st Test: Thurs, 10 Dec (6pm, St Anne’s DSG)
2nd Test: Fri, 11 Dec (10am, St Anne’s)
3rd Test: Fri, 11 Dec (7pm, St Anne’s)
4th Test: Sat, 12 Dec (10am, Danville Park Girls School)
5th Test: Sat, 12 Dec (8.15pm, UKZN Westville campus)
Spar Four Nations
(SA, Australia, USA, Namibia; all at UKZN Westville)
Tues, 15 Dec: Australia vs Namibia (7pm); SA vs USA (8.25pm)
Wed, 16 Dec: USA vs Namibia (7pm); SA vs Australia (8.15pm)
Thurs, 17 Dec: Australia vs USA (7pm); SA vs Namibia (8.15pm)
Fri, 18 Dec – 3rd/4th Playoff (8.15am); Final (9.30am)
* Food and beverages, prize giveaways, Fan Zone.