A-Section promotion sets to bring new challenges for the first team hockey men and ladies.

The Wits Hockey ladies’ with their trophy after winning their final against UKZN 3-0. Photo: Provided.

The Wits Ladies and Men’s first teams in hockey have been bumped up to the A-Section after being named University Sports South Africa (USSA) champions in Stellenbosch earlier this month.

The Wits Men beat Stellenbosch Maties 2-0 in a penalty shootout after ending in a 1-all deadlock.

Michael Marki captained his teammates to a maiden USSA victory. He hailed the team’s performance and said it was the best they had ever played as a unit.

Chad Futcher, a striker for the Wits men’s team, was the tournament’s top scorer and took the title of most valuable player.

Marki said Futcher deserved the award. “There are guys in the team who have been here for six years, much longer than I have,” said Marki. “They have watched this team grow from strength to strength, through good and bad times.”

Marki said the team’s promotion bodes well for future recruitment. He is also confident that their female counterparts are more than able to step up to the challenge of winning in the A-Section next year.

The ladies’ team beat University of KwaZulu-Natal 3-0 despite their captain, Nompilo Thenjwayo, not participating due to exams. They were crowned USSA champions, with Lezaan Janse van Vuuren taking her place as captain.

Defender and hockey director Storme Johnson hailed her strong teammates for playing with maturity in a lower division.

“We still remained competitive and at the end of the week had scored a total of 44 goals. We got the job done and showed why we deserve to be in the A-section,” Johnson said.

One of the team’s strikers, Nomnikelo Veto, recently returned after representing South Africa in Valencia, Spain, in the FIH (International Hockey Federation) finals.

Johnson said the experience and knowledge Veto had from playing at international level benefited the team.

“She stood strong as a senior player during USSA, never afraid to keep us in check,” she said.

She also acknowledged teammate Robyn Johnson, who played alongside Veto in the FIH finals.

Being moved up to the A-Section means the women will be paired against teams such as Stellenbosch, University of Pretoria and University of Cape Town.

Head of hockey Sharmin Naidoo told Wits Vuvuzela: “The gold medals are just a reward for not only working hard, but also for working smart.

“Our planning for 2020 has already begun and we look forward to another year of exciting hockey at Wits,” said Naidoo.