Former Maritzburg College student Peabo Lembethe led the Tuks team to their first Varsity Hockey title win with a 5-0 win victory over Maties in the final in Stellenbosch.
The Pretoria side’s captain has had an illustrious career in hockey, playing for Maritzburg College first team, going onto captain Tuks and then being picked for the South Africa u21 Junior World Cup side.
Lembethe explained that playing for Maritzburg College and against other KwaZulu-Natal schools elevated his game for the higher echelons of the sport.
“At Maritzburg College at under-14 level, they drilled basic skills into us, so we know how to pass the ball and stop the ball. And at first team level they just instilled the basics and how to play which helped me later on.
“Competing in KwaZulu-Natal definitely helped a lot in developing my skills. Michaelhouse, Hilton and Westville were good, but our biggest rivals were Glenwood, they were a tough game.”
The Pietermaritzburg-born player was incredibly proud of his youthful team mates’ title victory.
“It was a huge honour to captain this young team. It wasn’t hard, I didn’t have to give them a motivational speech, the guys were already motivated. Which made my job easier.
“In the final, everyone knew their job, knew why we came to Maties and took it from there and we won at the end.”
There is a Maritzburg College flavour in the Tuks side with head coach Guy Elliot and team mate Onke Letuka from the school. Elliot sang Lembethes’ praises after the successful Varsity Hockey season.
“He was a fantastic leader throughout the campaign. He doesn’t lead much through talking, but more through his actions on the field and the guys respect that.
“They call him the general because of the way he leads his troops. And I know that he commands a lot of respect that from the players around him.
“I’ve coached him since he was 15-years old, from high school to university level. We’ve walked a long path together, and I trust him as a player and I hope he trusts me as coach. He was absolutely fantastic and sets a good example.”
Lembethe will now be vying for a spot in the South African National squad for the Hockey World Cup later this year in India, and believes that the level of competition in Varsity Hockey prepped him for the task.
“Varsity Hockey players are all at a similar skill level and playing guys like that week-in and week-out definitely helped develop me for the higher level.”