THE cream of Eastern Province’s younger hockey set face a searching test of their credentials when they compete in the national under-21 tournaments, starting on Sunday. The men’s tournament is being played in Pretoria and the women are in Durban.
Under coach Darren Kimfley, the men’s team face an early challenge when they take on Western Province in their opening game.
WP are one of the perennial powerhouses in South African hockey and an opening victory for EP will set them up well for the week.
Although no team can be taken lightly, EP seem to be in the easier of the two pools, with defending champions Northerns, Southerns and KZN Raiders all in the other section. Kimfley’s minimum priority will be to finish in the top two of their pool to make the top four playoffs.
Former SA Schools player Chad Cairncross is back with EP and with several players from last year back in action, EP should be reasonably confident of doing well.
Women’s coach Leroy Johnston has set their sights slightly lower, the team having found themselves in a rebuilding phase after losing 13 players from last year’s squad.
“We have a very young side this year,” Johnston said. “There are seven schoolgirls in our squad so we have to be realistic. Our preparations have gone well and we are aiming for the top six. Anything more than that will be a bonus.”
EP have Southerns and KZN Raiders in their pool, while North West, who have played much emphasis on their hockey in recent years, will also be a strong factor.
Women: Anja van Eedern (NMMU), Rebecca Pope (Amathole), Luche Klaasen (Amathole), Catherine Meier (NMMU), Keisha Arnolds (NMMU), Lauren Jasson (NMMU), Toni Marks (Gelvan), Demi Harmse (Gelvan), Jordan le Clus (NMMU), Dayna Barlow (Old Grey), Tristian Schroeder (NMMU), Shayna Harmse (Gelvan), Cassie Lister (NMMU), Leigh Paulsen (Gelvan), Talia Nomdoe (NMMU), Gillian Forbes (NMMU), Elan van Vaught (Gelvan).
ýPools: Pool A: Southerns, North West, Eastern Province, Namibia, KZN Raiders, Eastern Gauteng; Pool B: Free State, Western Province, WP Pens, Northern Blues, KZN Inland, Wits.
Men: Steven Dent (NMMU), Denzil Aranjo (NMMU), Lee Allers (NMMU), Tersian Adam (NMMU), Jaycin Snyman (NMMU), Chad Cairncross (NMMU), Kerwin Christoffels (NMMU), Malikaya Mdutyana (Lakeside Cavaliers) Libongo Vatyi (NMMU), Ryan Howden (Rhodes), Jason Bigara (NMMU), Winchester Scott (Gelvan), Curtis Samboer (NMMU), Kyledean Davidson (Border), Kevin Carrol (NMMU).
ýPools: Pool A: Northern Blues, Southerns, KZN Raiders, North West, Wits, Eastern Gauteng; Pool B: Free State, Western Province, KZN Inland, Eastern Province, WP Pens, Namibia.