Eleven representatives from the University of Johannesburg’s hockey club have been included in the national U21 squads for the Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier tournaments in Windhoek, Namibia, from March 18 to 28.
Four players – Carmen Smith, Cheneal Raubenheimer, Kristen Paton and Marizen Marais – were selected for the women’s team, while Kyle Lion-Cachet, Tyson Dlungwana, Ryan Crowe and Amkelwe Letuka got the nod for the men’s side.
Goalkeeper Matthew Martins is the non-travelling reserve.
In addition, UJ hockey mentor Garreth Ewing was recognised for his coaching skills in being named the men’s head coach, while hockey club manager Elize le Roux will attend the tournament as a technical official.
Christy McCrorie is the women’s team video analyst, a role she also carries out for UJ’s other sporting codes.
Le Roux said the players’ selection was recognition of the efforts put in by the UJ Hockey Club to develop the talent in their ranks.
“For the club it means we are doing the right development of players and staff so their talents are seen at a higher level,” she said.
“It contributes to their dreams of playing for the national teams and is an indication of the club’s contribution to grow the sport.
“It also provides exposure for the players on national and international platforms, which is a boost for their career opportunities after their playing careers are done.”
The teams were selected after the recent U21 camps in Pretoria and their aim will be to qualify through the African event for next year’s Junior World Cup.
The UJ members add considerable expertise and experience to the SA U21 sides.
Smith and Marais have both played for the women’s national senior team, while they, along with Paton and Raubenheimer, were part of the UJ team which won the Varsity Hockey and University Sport South Africa (Ussa) titles last year.
Among the men, Lion-Cachet is a second-year student, having been a member of the team which won the Southern Gauteng premier league in 2015.
The trio of Crowe, Letuka and Dlungwana are new recruits, but have already caught the eye by being included in the Southern Gauteng provincial group from which the squad for the interprovincial in April will be chosen.
Ewing is also head coach for the UJ men’s team that won the Ussa title from 2012-14 and is closely involved in developing the sport, both at UJ and in several other fields in SA hockey.
Besides coaching the SA U21 side, he is also a national selector at an U18 boys’ level.
Le Roux said the national selection of UJ players was also a reward for the club’s efforts to develop their resources and to ensure their players progressed in the right direction.
“We do a lot of planning throughout the year to identify what our needs are and put together a programme that is supported and run by UJ sport and UJ hockey,” she said.
“We also link with the national federation to support their plans through regular communication with our staff and players.
“Many players’ meetings are held to identify their goals and to ensure teams are managed successfully.”
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