Witsies to shine in Bloemfontein among hockey national players at provincial tournament

Twenty-five Wits hockey players will represent the Southern Gauteng Hockey Association in the Seniors Inter-Provisional Tournament (IPT) from August 26-31 in Bloemfontein.

The tournament tests the skills of senior players representing the different provinces. South Gauteng (SG) and the Northerns form part of the Gauteng region, but are two different teams.

The teams are the SG men and women, SG Nuggets,  SG Witwatersrand and SA under 21.

The players from the Wits ladies’ side are Nomnikelo Veto, Robyn Johnson, Ashleigh Datnow, Nompilo Thenjwayo, Lelethu Ndakisa, Sisipho Magwaza, Mandisa Sigudla, Ashleigh Readhead, Angelique Pieterse, Michelle Dykman, Erin Haupt, Emma Bone, Tayla Johnson and Lezaan Jansen van Vuuren.

The higher-skilled teams, SG ladies and men’s side have players who have represented the country a number of times. Players such as South African women’s captain Erin Hunter, Kristen Paton and Lisa-Marie Deetlefs are in the women’s side. Nicholas Spooner, Taylor Dart and Owen Mvimbi are in the men’s squad.

Sports officer and head of hockey Sharmin Naidoo said the number of Witsies going to the tournament next week may possibly be a record for the club.

“This is a great opportunity for our young players to shine at this national event, playing among the best players in the country from every province,” Naidoo said of Wits players training with those who have represented the country.

He also said it may give them a chance to showcase their talent for national selection, as well as bring back medals and trophies for the province.

“Wits hockey has improved and developed immensely in recent years and we have put solid, high-performance structures and systems in place to give our student athletes the best grounding to achieve at the highest level,” said Naidoo.

First-year Bsc physiotherapy student James Isherwood, who will be playing for the SG Nuggets side, said this will be his first IPT in his 10 years of playing hockey.

In terms of preparation for the upcoming tournament, Isherwood said not a lot has changed due to the ongoing SG hockey league, however he has “added a little more technical preparation for IPT to accomplish my roles in the Nuggets team”.

“Playing alongside and under players who have represented the country has created a level of demand and a need for continuous improvement to reach the levels set by them”, Isherwood told Wits Vuvuzela.

Cody van Wyk, midfielder for the Wits men, echoed Isherwood, saying, “Because of the strength in [Southerns Gauteng league], Wits often play matches against players who have represented South Africa, and it allows me and other Witsies in the team to increase the level at which we need to play.”

The 23-year-old midfielder has played in IPT since he was in the under 14 age group. He will be playing alongside several players who have international caps.

Van Wyk and Isherwood were not surprised by how many Wits players were called up for IPT.

“Both ladies and men’s teams put in many hours and it shows, since both teams won their respective USSA tournaments and are competing at the highest level in their league,” Van Wyk said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Cody van Wyk is one of the students who will be representing Wits hockey in the upcoming IPT in Bloemfontein. Photo: Khomotso Makgabutlane