Ms Swanepoel an inspiration to young hockey players

ZOE COETZEE 

Ms Jo-Nelke Swanepoel recently umpired the 2021 Senior Ladies’ Interprovincial Tournament in Cape Town. Blowing for both the semi-finals and the finals, she continued her tradition of blowing for both games ever since her first tournament in 2018. 

Umpiring at this tournament was quite an experience as she worked with the likes of Michell Joubert and Annelise Roston who are both Olympic umpires. Her own umpiring career started as a leap of faith here in Bloemfontein. 

Ms Swanepoel decided that she wanted to play hockey in Grade 1; she was a member of Oranje’s First Hockey Team from Grades 8 to 12. In Grade 11 and 12 she was selected for the South African U.18 A side and in her three years at the University of the Free State, she played for the National A side. 

St Michael’s principal, Mr Braam van Wyk was her hockey coach for fifteen years. She has always been impressed with the person he is, his manner of coaching, and how he is able to communicate with the team.

Although her biggest and greatest achievement is the National A side (a team just under the National side), her favourite memory will always be from her matric year when the underdog Oranje hockey team that she was a part of, beat Eunice!

What she enjoys most about hockey is the team vibe and the fact that you make friends for life.  Some of the people she met in her junior-school years are still as good friends as they were when they were young. 

Her message to young girls who aspire to become professional hockey players is:  ‘Set a goal and do anything possible to achieve it.’ and for the girls who want to achieve something ‘ practice makes perfect.’  As Gary Player quipped: ‘The more you practice, the luckier you get.’    

Ms Jo-Nelke Swanepoel (second from the left) with fellow umpires of the final game of the Senior Ladies IPT. On the right is Olympic Umpire, Michelle Joubert. Photo provided