For the second year in a row Westville Boy’s High have swum their hearts out and ended the 2009 season unbeatable in every gala that they competed in. It is an impressive record that encompasses a variety of disciplines in the water and across all age groups. From winning the KZN Top 10 Gala where they broke 11 records to winning the schools section of the Midmar Mile for an astonishing 15th year with 4 WBHS swimmers finishing in the Mens top 20. With such depth in their swimming team they have been able in recent years to have had Chad Ho swimming at the 2008 Olympics as well as Chad le Clos and Leith Shankland winning gold medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games and World Youth Games respectively.
At times the avid cricket fan may look at the national side and wonder if South Africa has any talent in its junior ranks to one day replace the current players who represent the country at the highest level. It is pleasing to know though that there is a crop of young cricketers who in a short space of time may very well be emulating the Graeme Smiths’ or even the Kevin Pietersens’ of the cricketing world.
Boasting 14 years of experience gained in over 130 first class matches, Doug Watson has established himself as one of South Africa’s most respected and enduring cricketers over the years. Realising that there is no substituent for experience Westville Boy’s High have enlisted the Dolphins stalwart to coach their First XI for the coming seasons and School Sport- The Magazine spoke to Doug about this new challenge of honing the skills of Westville’s aspiring cricketers.
The game of water polo originated as a form of rugby football played in rivers and lakes in England and Scotland with a ball constructed of Indian rubber. This "water rugby" came to be called "water polo" based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu. Men's water polo at the Olympics was among the first team sports introduced at the 1900 games, along with cricket, rugby, football (soccer), polo (with horses), rowing, and tug of war. However woman had to wait 100 years before they would compete in this sport at the Olympics when for the first time water polo became an Olympic sport for woman at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Maritzburg College has positioned itself at the top rung of school sports in KwaZulu-Natal for decades and continues to provide sportsmen of the highest caliber. Old Collegians such as Rugby World Cup winners Joel Stransky and Butch James along with Protea's cricketer Jonty Rhodes have written their names indelibly in the sporting history of South Africa.It is however a player in the England cricket team, Kevin Pietersen which enjoys more limelight than any other Maritzburg College Old Boy at present. His devastating displays with the bat helped England regain the Ashes and he has inspired thousands of young players all over the United Kingdom and the world. As a young boy himself growing up in South Africa Kevin lived and breathed sport in general and cricket in particular as he explained when SA School Sports caught up with him in this exclusive chat before he faced the Aussies in the Ashes this year.
It will always be a topic that causes a hot debate - who is the strongest Rugby school in KZN, or the country for that matter. These days, its far more difficult to ascertain with the additional matches being played. If pure tradition and sustained quality were the measure, few would disagree that Maritzburg College has proved itself to be one of the foremost rugby playing schools in KwaZulu-Natal for more than a century.
Six KZN boy's were recently selected for the South African U18 Hockey Team at the interprovincial tournament held at the AB Jackson GreenFields Turf in Pietermaritzburg. Captain of the KZN Coastals, Greg Last and Thuthuka Goba of Midlands talk about their achievements, how they have been able to succeed in the sport and what got them started.
What got you started in hockey Thuthuka?
Well I played cricket at primary school but when I arrived at Maritzburg College I was suddenly exposed to more boys competing for places in the teams and more sports. So I tried a bit of basketball but I was still just trying to find my place. By the time the second term arrived I was playing hockey but I was an infield player playing sweeper and I was trialling out for the "E" and "D" team. However there was a shortage of goalkeepers at that time and I went for that position because I felt I was good with my feet and I can kick the ball. That year I made Midlands U14 B and amazingly the next year I made the Maritzburg U16 A side as well as Midlands U16 and SA U16 side. This year has been amazing too because I have been selected for the SA U18 side.
Have all these successes in hockey come as a surprise to you?
Well, I was surprised when I made SA U16, when I made that team I realised that I was good enough to play this sport at a high level. I told myself that if I can make it when I was underage what prevents me been selected when I am playing in my age group and I would have been quite upset with myself if I did not make the SA U18 team. I really was working hard to get selected.
You talk about working hard at the game, just how much of work goes into your game?
Well what I enjoy as a goalkeeper is that it is not as intense as all the outfield players training. It is more a mind thing; you have got to get into your own zone as a keeper and stay calm and collected. Everyone else has to worry about their fitness and stick work but for me I must look at my technique and keep my reflexes sharp. You have got to have a good eye for the ball, a lot of the situations in the game require you to save a goal that normally you wouldn't save but because your reflexes are well trained you are able to pull off a save somehow. So during training I get tennis balls fired at me at great speed which helps in this area.
If I didn't talk to my players I would be a lazy couch potato
It is very noticeable whilst you are playing that you are very vocal at the back shouting out instructions to your defenders. Does this help the team?
If you can control your defenders then everything is more organised and you don't as a keeper have to worry about balls coming from different directions. I feel a lot more comfortable when everyone is doing exactly what I am telling them because then I don't have to do so much work. Talking to the players also helps me to stay focused and to be a lot more organised. For example if there is no marking in the midfield then my defenders are in disarray and they take the men I am supposed to be marking and it just leads to confusion. So by continuously talking to the guys it is going to keep the defence orderly and composed. If I don't talk I am just a lazy couch potato at the back so by talking to my players during the game I feel in control I feel so much more confident and it keeps me in the game constantly.
Maritzburg College is synonymous with hockey, has this helped you in your development?
Well to be honest if I never came to College I would have never played hockey and would have just stuck to basketball and soccer. Here at College they take pride in everything they do, many people think College is a rugby school but if you are playing hockey you get that feeling that your sport is also very special and that they care about what you are doing.
Does the coaching at Maritzburg College make a difference?
The coaches here are awesome. I remember my U14 coach was really concerned about our fitness and gave me that belief that we can win games and winning is so important. When I lost my first game in U16 after I don't know how many games it was a terrifying experience really. There are different coaching methods as you progress and the game gets more demanding. When you jump to Mr. Bechet's level it is something totally different. He is a "unity" type of coach, "...you listen to me, you do what I do and you will win..." He has all the angles covered and his coaching really works. It really is a privilege to play for College.
Don't be scared to try something new in sport
What about a future, is hockey something that could be a career?
No not really. There is no money in the game in South Africa. A couple of guys who I have spoken to who play professionally only get paid about R10 per hour which is not enough to live on really. However the London 2012 Olympics is a goal that I would like to consider if South Africa can qualify. I will probably still keep on playing in University after school.
Any advice for a youngster wanting to achieve what you have?
I would tell them not to be scared to try something new, because honestly I never thought I would be where I am right now. A lot of my friends, being a black guy playing hockey, were very negative about it, but you must do what you want to do and you will go places.
Having coached 47 South African U18 hockey players and another 11 South African Men's Hockey players as well as being involved in coaching cricketing stars Jonty Rhodes and Kevin Pietersen, Maritzburg College have in Mike Bechet a Director of Sport who has a passion for his school and the sports which he has seen its boys play for more than 27 years. We caught up with the man behind Maritzburg College's sporting success.
Having produced 24 international hockey players, six who have represented South Africa at the Olympic Games and a staggering 44 SA Schools Under 18 players, Maritzburg College is recognized as one of the premier schools in the sport of hockey. In the last 2 years College were able to produce an 80.3% win record across all their teams results from the 1st XI down to the 14F team.It is a record to be proud of and one which sees College players striving to maintain and improve upon year in and year out. Brandon Swart is the Master in Charge of the sport at College and he shared his views as to why Maritzburg College remain so dominant in hockey.
Michaelhouse rugby fullback Patrick Lambie does not immediately strike you as one of the most talked about schoolboy rugby players in the country. Neatly turned out in his blazer, hair immaculate, the polite and soft spoken Lambie appears unlike what you would expect. However the quite demeanour soon disappears when you realise the pedigree of the player, twice selected for South African Schools and already on a 2 year contract with the Sharks Rugby Academy he is destined to be seen a lot more of in the years to come.