JOHANNESBURG - National women’s hockey coach Sheldon Rostron has hailed the Premier Hockey League (PHL) as an important part of the bigger picture of the country’s hockey set-up, and said the standard of this year’s tournament was a big improvement from 2016.
Speaking as the curtain came down on the 2017 event, Rostron was also enthusiastic about the growth opportunities for such a tournament.
The unheralded Orange River Rafters were crowned women’s champions and the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen lifted the men’s trophy for a second consecutive year, as the tournament came to an end on Tuesday evening.
“From last year’s PHL, I think we’ve seen a big improvement in the quality of hockey this year. I think it’s been part of our processes to make sure, from high performance, that we’ve really looked at the top players that are here, how those teams get put together,” said Rostron.
“We also tried to integrate all the under-21s that are in the system as well to make sure that they were all here to perform and we were very happy with the quality in general,” added the coach.
“Within Africa this is definitely one of the strongest leagues and we need to look at how we grow ourselves from this – potentially latching on to international players that could maybe come and add value in a process like this, and hopefully being able to professionalise in the long-term. I think that way we could really add a lot of value to the national team.”
With two major tournaments on the horizon for the national sides, the PHL provided selectors with one last chance to have a look at potential team members – with Rostron hinting there may even be a few surprises when his Commonwealth Games team is announced in January.
“In terms of players that we’ve seen, there’ve certainly been one or two that we’ve been happy to have a look at. I definitely think there are some players here that have put up their hands quite nicely,” he added.
Tournament award winners:
Player of the tournament: Kristen Paton (Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies)
Top goal-scorer: Sulette Damons (Orange River Rafters) and Tiffany Jones (Private Property St Lucia Lakers)
Best goalkeeper: Nicole La Fleur (Wineland Wings)
Best junior player: Ongi Mali (Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies)
Player of the tournament: Miguel da Graca (Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen)
Top goal-scorer: Courtney Halle (Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators)
Best goalkeeper: Gowan Jones (ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons)
Best junior player: Tyson Dlungwana (Old Mutual iWYZE Golden Gate Gladiators)
African News Agency (ANA)