CAPE TOWN - South Africa Hockey Association chief executive Marissa Langeni is hoping to build on the momentum gained at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Both men’s and women’s national teams participated at the Olympics for the first time since London 2012. Although the women’s team failed to win a match in Toyko, the men’s side captured the imagination of the South African public through their spirited performances against much higher-ranked opponents.
Coach Gareth Ewing’s team just fell short of advancing to the quarter-finals after beating World No 4 Germany in a 4-3 thriller and also drawing 4-4 with Canada.
The performances of youngsters such as the Cassiem brothers – Dayaan and Mustaphaa – along with Nqobile Ntuli and Matthew Guise-Brown is certainly promising for the future.
Although the international season has drawn to a close, Langeni and her team are ensuring the players are not inactive despite Covid-19 restrictions creating major obstacles to keep the local hockey programme in full swing.
“We are really pleased with both teams’ performances in Tokyo. There was a limited preparation time due to Covid with many international teams, who were looking to come out to South Africa prior to the Olympics, having to cancel because the lockdown had obviously happened earlier in Europe.
“This led to our teams having to make alternate arrangements, like centralised camps, with even the women’s team having to play against some men’s teams in preparation. So, everything considered, we are pleased with the team’s performances in Tokyo.”
With no international hockey on the immediate horizon, the current plan is that all the players will be preparing for the national Inter-Provincial (ITP) tournament to be held at the end of October.
Langeni is also waiting on confirmation for the dates of the upcoming African Cup of Nations.
“There is no international hockey happening at the moment. It’s the club season in Europe and they are currently finalising their preparations for the Euro Cup.
“We are waiting on the final dates for the African Cup of Nations that is meant to be held sometime in January in Ghana. That will be our qualification process for the next World Cup too.
“The u21s will also be preparing for the upcoming u21 World Cup. The men will face Namibia in October, while the women will also play against India.
“We definitely have a good future ahead of us that we can start preparing for.”
South Africa will also be hosting the first Junior Hockey Women’s World Cup on African soil later this year. The event will take place in Potchefstroom from 5 – 16 December at the North West University’s Astro complex. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event will be hosted in a strict bio-bubble to ensure the safety of all players and officials.