Johannesburg – South African world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee says she opted to play in this year's women's Interprovincial Hockey Tournament (IPT) because of the spirit shown by the teams and the relaxed atmosphere at the tournament.
Coetzee was speaking after her side, South Gauteng (Southerns), ran out 8-1 winners over the KZN Mynahs on Sunday evening, with the striker netting twice to help her side to a convincing win and the perfect start to the week-long competition.
“I absolutely love playing in this tournament,” Coetzee said.
“It's a lot of fun, it's a little bit less pressure than international hockey and I have a lot of friends in this competition and ultimately that's why I play.”
After returning from the London Olympics last week, it has been a quick turnaround for Coetzee who has represented her country more than 200 times in a career spanning over a decade.
Coetzee believed Southerns looked good in their first match against the Natal side and were looking to win this year's title after narrowly missing out to Western Province in last year's final.
“Southerns got together literally two days ago,” she said.
“We've had one training (session) where everybody was involved, so for us it's important to start taking steps towards getting to the final.
“It's important that we get everything in place before then. We'll use these games building up to get there.”
Southerns boast three London Olympians in Coetzee, Lisa Deetlefs and Bernadette Coston, while goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa travelled with the SA side as cover for regular keeper Mariette Rix.
“It was obviously not compulsory to play this (year's) IPT and so it all depended on what you as an individual wanted to get out of it,” Coetzee said of the SA team members not attending the IPT.
“For some it's fun, for others its been a long season and there are many that aren't involved because the season has just been so long for them.”
Reflecting on her performance at the Olympics, Coetzee admitted the South Africans could have enjoyed a more successful campaign, but she was happy with her personal performance, scoring three goals in six games.
“I must be honest, I felt a little hint of frustration at the Games,” she said.
“But that could be partly because of the tremendous amount of pressure that's on you at the Games.
“You don't get a single inch of space and that's what you can expect there, so I'm happy with the three goals, but I was hoping for a bit more than that.
“When I look at how the Games went and my input in general, it got much better towards the end.
“It was really just the first game that I felt out of it and then I started building more and more.” – Sapa