ALTHOUGH they did not pick up any titles, the Eastern Province boys’ hockey teams excelled in the junior interprovincials during the mid-year holidays, supplying five players to the national sides chosen.
St Andrew’s star, Charlie Bowren, was chosen for the SA under-18A side for the second year in a row, while Cody van Wyk was named in the SA u-18B team.
Dillan Langeveld, Laython Coombs and Ross Anderson, all of Grey, were chosen for the SA u-16 side, while EP Schools official, Mark Jenneker, will manage the SA u-21 team at the senior interprovincial in Cape Town (August 25-31), as well as at the Junior World Cup in Delhi, India, in November.
The EP u-18 boys ended second in their pool and then showed their true character in the semifinals against hosts, Western Province.
Down 3-0 at one stage in the second half, led by the hard-running and talented Bowren, EP produced a tremendous comeback and scored two goals in the final five minutes by Tristan Lasevicius and Kurt Wicht.
Some missed chances in the dying seconds cost them dearly, but they won over many supporters with their fighting attitude.
In the play-off for third place, EP lost 2-1 to Border. For the first time, EP were allowed to field another u-18 team in the B section and they also excelled by ending in the top four.
The u-16 teams went a step better in Johannesburg and contested the finals of the A and B sections.
However, they ended up with the silver medals, with the A side losing to Western Province 3-1, and the B team going down to KZN Inland 5-4 on the eight-second penalty shootout in the final. This was also the first time EP had entered a second team at the u-16 tournament.
The EP u-14 team ended in a credible sixth position in the regional tournament held in George.
The EP u-13 boys team ended second at their tournament in Cape Town.
“This was an amazing year for boys’ hockey in the province, and we are slowly, and rightfully so, taking back our place in South African schools hockey,” Jenneker said.
“Credit must certainly go to our coaches – Eric Jacobs (u-13), Gerard Noah and Michael van Rensburg (u-14), Mazan dos Santos and Greg Thomson (u-16) and Greg van Molendorff and Kyle Schimper (u-18), who sacrificed their time to coach, train and prepare the teams.”