Acknowledging there is strong competition, University of Johannesburg hockey manager Elize le Roux said their women’s team were ready to keep on fighting in the Varsity Hockey tournament this weekend.
Despite some close results, the defending champions could win only one of four matches in the opening weekend in Stellenbosch and they will be striving for a change of fortunes in the second phase of the competition, which starts in Potchefstroom today.
There will be three more rounds of matches before the play-offs take place on Monday, with the final being contested on May 22. While UJ are somewhat off the pace, six points behind fourth-placed NWU-Pukke, Le Roux said they had had a chance to reflect on their performances.
“This year the competition is very strong,” she said. “Due the format of the competition the break gives you a chance for reflection and time to regroup. There are possibly four clear teams so far showing top-four status, but this can change at any stage due to the nature of sport.”
The unbeaten Maties team lead the log on 12 points, followed by UP-Tuks, Wits and NWU-Pukke on nine points apiece. UJ, NMMU-Madibaz and Free State are all grouped on three points. UJ will be up against Wits, UP-Tuks and Madibaz this weekend. Despite the defeats, Le Roux said the spirit in the camp remained positive.
“We have some new staff and players so we have been working further on the players’ belief in the processes we are putting forward. We want to create a belief in the brand and in what we want to achieve.”
She added they knew it would be tough but still felt they had a chance of qualifying for the top four.
“We don’t want to give away anything in terms of our strategy, but we are ready to make a big effort.”
The UJ hockey manager said the standard of women’s hockey had risen because players were being increasingly exposed to tournaments such as Varsity Hockey and the Premier Hockey League.
“Playing the sport at every level gives you so much more exposure and players pick up invaluable game time,” she added. “Hockey is a growing sport so these sorts of competitions increase the chances for the girls to develop in a competitive environment.”
By Coetzee Gouws