The UP-Tuks women’s hockey team will start the defence of their Varsity Hockey title on Friday in Cape Town when taking on Maties.
The match is a repeat of the 2017 Varsity-final. By beating Maties at the time, 1-0 UP-Tuks made history by becoming the first women’s team of the university to win a Varsity Tournament.
Since then UP-Tuks has been dominant. It would seem as if Inky Zondi (head coach) is blessed by having the “Midas touch”. Apart from winning the Varsity Hockey tournament, UP-Tuks has also won the USSA tournament twice in succession.
Marizen Marais (vice-captain) however, firmly believes in letting bygones be bygones.
“As a team, we are in a rebuilding phase. At the moment we got more youngsters playing for us than seniors. It means we are not even thinking about defending any title — our only goal from Friday is to play to the best of our abilities in every game. Then we shall see what happens. Hopefully, we shall qualify for the semi-finals.”
She has no hesitation in saying that Zondi who is also the assistant coach for the South African women’s team is one of the game’s best strategists.
“What truly sets Inky apart from any other coach is his people skills. He has got the knack to get each one of us to believe in our abilities. When you listen to him, talk you can’t but help to want to play for him and the team.”
Marais who plays midfielder for the Proteas, as well as UP-Tuks, views her most significant challenge to remain cool-headed for the duration of any game.
“Whenever I get the ball, I got to think as to where and whom I am going to pass it on. My role is all about creating opportunities.”
Having Natalie Esteves the 2017 victorious captain back playing for UP-Tuks is going to be a definite asset. She is considered to be one of the best drag-flick players. It is to be assumed that she has managed to finetune her skills to even greater perfection having played for some time in Ireland and Belgium.
According to Marais, the unique Varsity Hockey tournament rules could genuinely impact on the outcome of any game. One of the most significant rule changes in Varsity Hockey is the “power play” where two of a team’s players are benched for three minutes. During that time a team is also only allowed to have six players within the 25-metre line defending.
The rest of the UP-Tuks fixtures for the weekend are UJ (4 May), UCT (5 May) and NWU (6 May).
The UP-Tuks team is: Megan Anderson (captain), Marizen Marais (vice-captain), Mmamoagi Kungoane, Natalie Esteves, Thandokazi Chithi, Lerato Mahole, Alexis Steyn, Demi Tait, Kaylin Fourie, Micaela Roos, Jean-Leigh du Toit, Maxine Hannan, Aneme Jacobs, Aimee Anticevich, Ashleigh Thomas, Maikemisetso Marokoane, Jessica-Lee Redfern and Onthatile Zulu.
By Wilhelm de Swardt