Cape Town – After spending most of her youth on hockey fields across the country, Marsha Marescia, always felt that she was destined to wear the green and gold for South Africa in her favourite sport.
Earlier this week Marescia broke through the magical 300-mark, in terms of appearances for her country – a feat that ranks her among the greatest sporting heroes this country has ever produced.
“My mother, Marian Marescia, used to play and I basically grew up around hockey fields. I had a deep love for the game from an early age,” she said.
Marescia’s mother has been described by many as the best player to not have played for South Africa, due to apartheid, yet it had not stopped her from passing the love of the game on to her daughter.
Marescia has identified her mother as her life role model and former South African player Gillian Montague as her hockey role model.
As the long-serving captain for her country, the midfielder has amassed a record-breaking 302 appearances since her debut at the 2001 Junior World Cup, with her most recent cap against Azerbaijan.
The Johannesburg-born skipper played for her school’s team, Northlands Girls High in Durban North, before going on to provincial and national teams.
“After 12 years of playing hockey I am still as excited as the first time I ran out on to the field,” she exclaimed.“Every match is a new experience for me and I am still in love with the game. It is really special to be part of this team.”
At 30, she has no plans to stop playing any time soon. She has identified her passion as her fuel for many more years of service to South Africa.
“I still love the game and will continue to do so for a long time to come. Hopefully I will be able to play a lot more in the coming years and create many memories. The day I stop loving the game will be the day I consider retiring and I do not see that happening any time soon,” she said.
With the milestone of 300 Tests under her belt Marescia joins a number of great South African sport captains in terms of record appearances.
For instance South African Test cricket captain Graeme Smith, is the world’s most capped captain. Smith will make history by becoming the first man to have led South Africa in 100 Tests on February 14 when they play Pakistan at Newlands.
Marescia also stands tall alongside retired Springbok rugby captain John Smit who is the most capped rugby player in South African history with 111 caps, captaining the side a record of 64 games.
By joining this list Marescia has certainly establish herself as one of the country’s premier sport personalities. She admits she never expected to reach this milestone in her career.
“When I started playing I never dreamt of making 300 Tests or even being captain,” she said. “I just knew that I wanted to play for South Africa, I never thought of being capped a 300 times.”
During her 300 Tests she has played in various competitions including the Commonwealth and the Olympic Games.
“Besides the 300th Test against Ghana my major highlight was when we beat India to qualify for last year’s Games. We have always struggled to beat India, so to beat them was great or me and the team.”
After making her name in South Africa she went on to spend her club career in Holland. The Dutch are the current Games champions with many of their star players plying their trade in the Dutch hockey league alongside Marescia.
Marescia is currently playing for Kompong, her third hockey team in Holland’s league. She says she has been with the team for one season. Marescia holds a degree in marketing intending to further her studies next year.
“One of the things I will be looking into when I retire will be my new job. With a marketing degree hopefully things will go as planned – to further my studies.”
Marescia is married to Alexander Cox, a Dutch premier league coach, and is looking forward to married life.”I just recently got married. I am still excited by that and looking to spending as much time with my husband as I can,” she said.
Meanwhile Marescia is captaining the South African team at the World League tournament taking place in Cape Town. After beating Ghana and Belgium, the South African team are well placed to qualify for the semi-final rounds.
But a tough test awaits them following the World League, having to face the Games champions Holland, England and Australia in the Investec Challenge to be played in Cape Town next month. – Weekend Argus