Although not winning the title, NMMU-Madibaz mentor Cheslyn Gie completed a successful year in the coaching dugout when he guided the Addo Elephants to the final of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) in Johannesburg last month.
The Madibaz coach said the inaugural edition of the PHL had been a huge success and had given the players something to aim for in the domestic competitions.
After losing their first three matches, including an 8-2 loss to the Garden Route Gazelles, Gie’s Addo Elephants turned their tournament around to qualify for the play-offs.
The Elephants, who had Madibaz players Ignatius Malgraff, Devon Clarke, Chad Durrheim and Joshua August in their ranks, avenged the Gazelles defeat in the semi-finals.
They then lost to the Maropeng Cavemen in the final, but Gie said they were satisfied with their efforts.
“We felt we had a point to prove against the Gazelles as the 8-2 scoreline in the round-robin game did not reflect the closeness of the match. Needless to say the team was ecstatic with our performance.”
Gie said the outcome completed a “satisfying year” as coach after winning the Eastern Cape Challenge and KC March tournaments at the start of the season.
The team went on to a bronze medal performance at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) week in July before taking the EP premier league title.
“The second place at the PHL shows that players and coaches from the Eastern Cape can compete successfully at the highest level,” said Gie.
A total of 13 Madibaz hockey players – 10 men and three women – competed in the league. Dillan Langeveld (Maropeng Cavemen) and Lauren Nina (Blyde River Bunters) were members of the title-winning teams.
Gie said it was an indication that the Port Elizabeth varsity was “a great option” for aspiring hockey players.
“We compete in all the top events and this has been recognised with us attracting students from the Western Cape and Gauteng regions.”
Gie added that their priority was to develop the players holistically to achieve a good balance between sport and academic achievements.
He said they had a sound coaching structure at NMMU which helped the student-athletes to reach their potential.
“All our coaches have their national coaching qualifications and we have consistently improved over the past several years.
“Currently I’m busy with my level three coaching certificate and all the other coaches have a level two qualification.”
He said being involved in the PHL meant a lot for him as a coach, as well as the players.
“It means my abilities as a coach and theirs as players are being recognised. They now stand a chance to be rewarded with higher honours if they work even harder to improve.”
Gie said the experience of coaching in the PHL was quite different to his approach at NMMU, having had only two days to work with the Addo Elephants.
“I therefore had to carefully plan my training sessions to maximise the output of each player.
“The big difference is that at NMMU we have a lot more time to work towards our various strategies on attack, midfield play and defence. At the PHL this needed to happen within a few training sessions.
“I had to adapt my approach and keep the instructions and game plan as direct as possible and not overload the players with too much information.”