VIMBAI CHITUKU AND ITUMELENG SEMOLI
As the final whistle blew, shouts of joy erupted all over the astro. The First Team’s 2-0 win against Fichardt Park in the last game of the season was extra special because so many SMS learners had showed up to watch the ‘away’ game. Their encouragement created further drive in the players on the field. ‘It hasn’t been the greatest season, especially with Mr Van Wyk leaving and having to adjust to the change, but I’m proud of the progress made by the team,’ says Michan Marshoff.
This year’s hockey league was exciting and intense. The Junior First Team performed well, winning 50%, drawing 25% and losing only 25% of their league games. According to Ibukun Benedict, the All Girls’ Festival was good preparation as it gave the team the opportunity to build on their strenghths and learn from other teams for their own development. The U13 B team exceeded the call of duty at the Eunice Hockey Festival where they played eight games and won all but one.
SMS hockey continues to raise its game. Fourteen St Michael’s hockey players were selected to represent the Southern Free State this year: Fumane Mathumbu and Zintle James (U12 A); Honoured Tsabalira, Olebogeng Zwane, Zemirah Hatha, Tlotliso Rammile, Thato Mohapi and Rethabile Mokoto (U14 B); Naledi Shumane (U16 A); Vimbai Chituku (U16 B); Oratile Mosholi, Kaylen Simmons and Rethabile Kheleli (U18 B).
Ms Jo-Nelke Swanepoel, the First-Team hockey coach, has new goals in sight: she would like to see SMS hockey at a more competitive level in the near future. Recently a new pre-season programme was launched: all hockey players from Grade 6-11 practise together to focus on improving their skills in a supportive environment. Practices have become much more age-inclusive, encouraging the younger players to engage with the older players and learn from them. The intensity of skills development and fitness training sessions has also become more challenging.
Trials for all age groups have been held and all players are looking forward to next year’s hockey season. ‘Practising with the older players really helps us: we learn new skills and alternative ways to communicate from them. I like how we are all seen as equals and no one is better than anyone else, regardless of our age,’ commented Evile Makahla.
It’s safe to say that SMS hockey goals posts have moved and that you had better watch the space!