By Siyolise Gqongwana
After its return in January, the FIH Pro League is set to reach its conclusion. This has only been the 3rd edition of the tournament and South Africa is the first-ever African country to partake in it. This is after Australia and New Zealand pulled out due to the Corona Virus regulations.
In 2019, Cheslyn Gie was appointed as the national team’s assistant manager, and he has been relishing the opportunity of fulfilling his duties in the most competitive hockey league in the world. However, South Africa has endured a tough start in the competition. After 14 matches, the team is still in search of their first win – with their best result coming from a fiercely contested draw against Argentina. Gie has managed to pinpoint some of the factors contributing to their struggles.
“Currently we are the only team without a full-time programme in place, and this makes it extremely difficult to compete at the highest level. We need funding from a national level and for sponsors to support the team’s growth,” he said. The team has also had to adapt to the unavailability of several squad members by incorporating a few young players in the team.
Despite the team’s struggles, it has not been all doom and gloom for Gie. The Madibaz Hockey manager has been enjoying his globetrotting experience with AmaStokkie, and even managed to squeeze in a day of sightseeing in London during their stay in the UK last week. Additionally, his stay in England was made more memorable after bumping into fellow Madibaz Hockey alumnus, Jody Paul, who is now part of the management team for England’s women’s team. Jody Paul also represented the country as a player in the 2004 Olympics.
“The university gave us both the opportunity to play and coach at a high level, and I think that played an integral part in our growth as coaches,” said Gie.
Having been to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics as well, the Madibaz Hockey manager is now looking forward to the challenge of transferring his international experience along to the players and coaches at Madibaz Hockey.
Photo credit: Madibaz Sport