With the underline tone of #ChangingLives a prevalent thought for those watching, participating and supporting at the Varsity Sports Festival in Pretoria, some players took the opportunity to put themselves in a window, on a platform and potentially change their life with a performance that was noteworthy.
Varsity Hockey has not taken place since 2019 and these five young talents made sure they took every opportunity to put their name in headlights and maybe even on the back of the green and gold in the not-too-distant future. Ongeziwe Mali (Maties) and Brad Sherwood (Tuks) were the players of the tournament, but here are 5 other individuals who enhanced their own opportunity to Change Lives thanks to their performance on the turf!
Rebecca Kaps – Maties
Kaps finished the tournament with four goals to her name (2 x two-pointers), but it was the nature of the goals that was so appealing. Her determination to not lose the ball her tenacity when it seems likely to be out of reach and her willingness to put her body on the line for her team are outstanding characteristics of a hockey player. That she is able to combine them so superbly into one is a joy to watch and probably a joy to coach if we asked Lenise Marais. That doggedness will see Kaps represent the main Western Province team in a senior national tournament in the not-too-distant future.
Kenoe Christians – UJ
The man was a collection of moments of brilliance. UJ may have ended on the bottom of the pile, but Christians was quite comfortably near the top. His goal against Wits was arguably one of the great goals in Varsity Hockey history. It was a tenacious run with a pin-perfect finish of precision and power. His goal in the bronze medal was born of determination with a gut busting run that saw him finish off with a spectacular dive. This man has special in him, and we got to see it on the biggest stage.
Guy Morgan – Tuks
Okay Guy Morgan already has one international cap for the SA Hockey Men and is a name many people will know. But he still stood out in the tournament from a leadership point of view and from a big game point of view. A hat-trick in a final, after missing a stroke, is something people will remember forever. His calmness at the back, his ability to marshal his troops and of course his penchant for winning tournaments all plays in his favour. Morgan is a future South African Hockey captain.
Savannah Hartley – UFS
In the opening game of the tournament, we encountered the best goalkeeping performance. Savannah Hartley found her goal under siege from the Tuks team with international stars Tegan Fourie and Jean-Leigh du Toit troubling her more consistently than a window washer at the traffic light. But no matter what they tried they could not beat her in normal time and the game was sent all the way to a shootout. Unfortunately for Hartley she ended up on the losing side, but fortunately for us we got to witness an inspired goalkeeping performance from a player with massive potential.
Strelza van Aardt – Umpire
The Varsity Hockey tournament has witnessed some of the best umpires in World Hockey with the likes of John Wright, Michelle Joubert, Annelize Rostron, Peter Wright and Sean Rapaport all being involved. The tournament also offers up the opportunity for an umpire to put in an eye-catching performance. For van Aardt that performance came in the semi-final between Tuks and UFS where she controlled the game superbly and in a very busy circle managed to get the calls correct. Her handling of the game alongside experienced Melissa Taylor set a great tone for the tournament. We wouldn’t be surprised to see van Aardt at the next Senior IPT and potentially fighting for international opportunities in the future.