St Michael’s investment in hockey beginning to pay off

KHOTHATSO RAMAEMA

Because of Covid 19, there weren’t many hockey events or matches to report on, but in an interview with Mr Braam van Wyk Semester managed to get an inside scoop of the hockey scene at St Michael’s School. The principal is Mr Hockey at St Michael’s: his impressive resumé includes coaching the SA Schools First Team from 2009-2012 and being a trainer for the Senior Protea men’s and women’s teams.

   Mr Van Wyk has also been the SMS First-team coach since 2010 and has been on various selection panels for national hockey teams. He coached Oranje’s First Team for 18 years, and Grey College’s First Team for six years. He is currently the assistant coach for the Grey College First Team. He coached both men’s and women’s varsity first teams for 25 years as well as various Free State teams – U.21 men and women, U.18 girls and boys, U.16 boys, as well as senior men and women.

   The building of the astro was a large investment for the school and one of the highlights of 2019. It is one of the sources of income of the school, but this year Covid 19 made it difficult to rent it out. The school hasn’t been able to host any tournaments this year, so the astro has not been put to use as it should be. When asked what the biggest challenge was, Mr Van Wyk said, ‘One of the major side-effects of Covid is that we have been unable  to showcase the sport to our own leaners on our own campus, now that we have an astro.’

   The astro is currently being resurfaced and many people have been wondering why this project is necessary so soon after it was originally built. The service providers were supposed to provide the school with an international FIH certificate, but unfortunately, there were a few faults regarding that, which they had to fix. In fixing those faults, they damaged the carpet, so they are replacing it at their own cost.

   The SMS First Team played two practice matches this year: one against an Old Girls team and a friendly game against Fichardt Park which they won 4-0.

   Many of the girls in this team have been selected to play for national and provincial hockey teams. Gabby Marais – captain of the First Team – made the Free State U.21 team, and, together with Amogelang Senyatsi, also made the Girls’ Southern Free State U.18 A team. Ngatliseng Motheogane and Kaylen Simmons made the U.18 B team, in which Refilwe Mokhothu is also a non-travelling reserve. Itumeleng Semoli was selected for Free State U.16 A, Oratile Seleke  for Free Stste U.16B and the following six girls for the Free State  U.14 squad: Kayren Mareshia, Monono Matshaba, Naleli Shumane, Quistynn Veldschoen, Tsholofelo Naong and Vimbai Chituku.