Bumper summer of top hockey in Cape Town
The Cape Town stage of the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team’s 2013 campaign will see Western Cape fans treated to four weeks of test match hockey this month and next.
A four-match series against fellow London 2012 Olympians Belgium kicks off on Monday at Central Hockey Club, Vygieskraal, at 5.30pm CAT (SA, GMT+2) and will be followed by the World League round two competition from January 21 and capped off by the Investec Challenge, which will include London 2012 Olympic gold medallists Holland.
“The recent renewal of the team sponsorship with Investec allows us to build on the base of the past two years,” said SA head coach Giles Bonnet.
“It affords us the opportunity to implement the key learnings from London 2012 and to focus our energies and impetus in an intense 12-month period aimed at increasing the team’s high performance, with select specialists and service providers to leverage the quantum leap we need to make.”
The SA team assembled in Cape Town on Thursday and apart from wanting to succeed in the Belgium series, Bonnet is looking to qualify for the semifinals of the World League in Europe in June by finishing in the top two of World League round two in Cape Town and to implement a focused high-performance strategy within the next six months.
Bonnet and his coaching staff have, however opted to rest Marsha Marescia (captain), Pietie Coetzee and former SA Player of the Year and double Olympian Tarryn Bright for the Belgium series in order that they be fresh for that all-important World League competition and the Investec Challenge.
With nearly 800 test matches between them, they are major players and the coaching staff have decided to manage them very carefully.
This means that Marescia's 300th test cap, as well as the chance for Pietie Coetzee to net her 250th goal, will have to wait.
One-off internationals against the other Investec Challenge participants are lined up for SA at the end of January, against Australia, Holland and London 2012 bronze medallists England (Great Britain).
This before the cherry on the top of the hockey extravaganza sees the Investec Challenge event taking place from February 4 to 10 at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium.
“It has been a while since the national women’s team has performed in Cape Town and we intend to play an aggressive brand of direct hockey with an emphasis on pressure and speed that is sure to please Western Cape fans,” said Bonnet.
SOUTH AFRICA’S FIXTURES IN CAPE TOWN (all times are CAT, SA, GMT+2)
4-test series v Belgium
Jan 14: Central Hockey Club, Vygieskraal at 5.30 pm
Jan 16: Central Hockey Club, Vygieskraal at 5.30 pm
Jan 18: Hartleyvale, 6pm
Jan 19: Hartleyvale, 3pm
World League Round Two
Jan 22: v Ghana
Jan 24: v Belgium
Jan 26: v Azerbaijan
Jan 27: v Austria
One-off Internationals (Match times and venues still to be finalised)
Jan 29: v Australia
Jan 31: v Holland
Feb 2: v England
Investec Challenge(Match times and venues still to be finalised)
Feb 4: Australia v Holland; SA v England
Feb 5: Holland v England; SA v Australia
Feb 7: Australia v England; SA v Holland
Feb 9: Semi-finals
Feb 10: Bronze medal match; Gold medal match