NMMU hockey star Ignatius Malgraff is jetting off to the Netherlands in just over a week after being selected for the national senior World Cup team on Friday.
The first-year mechanical engineering student is one of only two juniors included in the South African side that will be up against the best in the world in The Hague from May 31 to June 15.
“This is definitely the highlight of my hockey career,” the East London-born striker said. “It is such an honour to represent my country and to play alongside such experienced players.”
Malgraff was one of 30 hopefuls who participated in a rigorous selection camp at St Alban’s College in Pretoria recently.
“Last week, each of us received a personal call from the coach informing us about our selection, but we had to keep the news to ourselves until it was released to the media on Friday.
“I was ecstatic when I received the good news.
“And, to top it all off, I am one of only two juniors [the other being Dylan Swanepoel from the Western Cape] to have made the team.”
Malgraff and the rest of his teammates will not be wasting any time and will be attending an intense two-day training session in Gauteng from May 18, two days before they leave for the Netherlands.
The South Africans will have their work cut out for them as they have two of the world’s best teams – Germany and the Netherlands – in their pool.
“It is going to be tough, but we have many experienced players and Olympians in our team,” Malgraff said.
Although the Madibaz player is one of the youngest in the squad, he is not lacking in experience.
He started playing while at St John’s Road Primary and continued throughout high school at Hudson Park High.
He first received SA colours as an under-16 player in 2009 and made his debut for the senior side at the FIH Champions Challenge in Argentina two years ago.
Last year, Malgraff was selected for the U21 team that competed in the Junior World Cup in India.
“His inclusion in the World Cup squad means a lot to us as a university and shows that we are continuing our proud tradition of producing national players,” Madibaz coach Cheslyn Gie said.
He said that Malgraff was an exceptional player and that his teammates were very proud of his achievement.
When the young hockey genius is not on the turf, he spends his time behind his textbooks. “I am considering playing club hockey abroad, but I first want to complete my studies.”
The World Cup team: Rassie Pieterse, Jethro Eustice, Clint Panther, Julian Hykes (all Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones, Wade Paton, Tim Drummond (all KZN Coastal Raiders), Rhett Halkett, Austin Smith (capt), Dylan Swanepoel (all Western Cape), Justin Reid-Ross, Lloyd Madsen, Jonty Robinson (all Northern Blues), Lungi Tsolekile, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Pierre de Voux (all Western Province), Ignatius Malgraff (Eastern Province).
OLD Grey turned a 3-0 half-time lead into a solid 5-0 victory against Pirates in their EP men’s premier league hockey match at the KC March astro yesterday.
In the other men’s match of the weekend, Gelvan Hurricanes shaded their old rivals Lakeside Cavaliers 2-1 on Friday.
In the women’s matches this weekend, NMMU Madibaz defeated Rhodes 4-0 yesterday, while Uitenhage edged NMMU B 4-3.
On Saturday, the Gelvan Tornados scored a solid 3-1 win against St Peters.