The inaugural South African Premier Hockey League has come to an end with the Milo Maropeng Cavemen and the Nestle Pure Life Blyde River Bunters the inaugural champions. South African hockey fans were spoiled with the best opportunity to watch the cream of South African hockey rise to the top. Here at Sports 24 Seven we have shared in depth reviews weekly and felt it was only right to cap off the tournament with the best of PHL 2016. Jabu shares it now below.
Team of the Tournament
The caveat I gave myself was the following. 3 players from the winning side, 2 from each of the other semi-finalists and one from each of the bottom two. This is my view, so please feel free to add your own below in the comments.
Player of the Tournament (M) – Lloyd Norris-Jones (Gazelles)
I have waxed lyrical previously about Lloyd. He is not just an incredible hockey player but a good guy too. His experience of playing in tournaments like the Olympic Games and Hockey India League will undoubtedly have helped those that play hockey alongside him. When Lloyd fired then so to do the Gazelles and not only did he score five goals but easily had 3/4 assists in a lethal attack. He may not have won the tournament, but he did almost everything he could have to make the difference.
Runners Up – Ricky West (Cavemen) & Lance Louw (Cavemen)
Player of the Tournament (W) – Nicolene Terblanche (Bunters)
Nicolene stood out every week of PHL for a simple reason. Work rate. The extremely fit skipper of the Bunters was the type of player who led by example in her tireless effort on the field. Further to this her leadership was truly exceptional. Watching the finals at Randburg on Sunday there was a stand out moment when as a Chukka ended she ran over to one of the young ladies in the side who had put in a fantastic shift and encouraged her and kept her head in the game. It was the type of leadership that makes her such a great captain.
Runners Up – Mpumelela Mbande (Bunters) & Lisa Deetlefs (Rangers)
Breakthrough Player of the Tournament (M) – Siya Nolutshungu (Gladiators)
Although Siya was not necessarily the starting keeper for the Golden Gate Gladiators going into the tournament, he produced the kind of form that will leave coach Garreth Ewing with some tough (but good) decisions to make. He was absolutely outstanding in the match against Mambas and even better in the play-off against the Gazelles. One of the big lessons we learnt from PHL is that when Rassie Pieterse does retire one day, there is an abundance of keeper talent waiting for the chance to shine.
Runners Up – Cameron Mackay (Cavemen) & Ryan Julius (Gladiators)
Breakthrough Player of the Tournament (W) – Stephanie Baxter (Lakers)
In a team that features the irrepressible Shelley Russell, Kara Stella and Kelly Madsen, if you manage to stand out you must be something special. That seems and apt way to describe the hockey of Stephanie Baxter. The diminutive figure is only small in size as her work rate and heart are second to none. I have no doubt that Sheldon Rostron and his selectors will have stood up and taken notice.
Runners Up – Kate Koenig (Lakers) & Tarryn Glasby (Daisies)
Goal of the Tournament (M) – Nick Gonsalves (Mambas)
It was scored in the opening week and although we saw some crackers after that, this goal by Nick Gonsalves stood out for me as the goal of the tournament.
Runner-up: Lloyd Norris-Jones (Gazelles) & Ryan Julius (Gladiators)
Goal of the Tournament (W) – Simone Gouws (Rafters)
It was the very first goal of the women’s tournament when the Rafters took on the Bunters. They opened the score through an incredible run from youngster Simone Gouws who took the field on herself before netting. Unfortunately it was the last really bright moment of the tournament for the Rafters.
Runners Up – Kate Koenig (Lakers) & Lisa Deetlefs (Rangers)
Photo of the Tournament (M)
Marcel Sigg of Run Ride Dive, along with his wife Maggi, took some great photos at the PHL, and all photos of the hockey shared here are courtesy of Marcel unless otherwise stated. Here is my favourite featuring Lance Louw celebrating the go-ahead-goal in the final against the Addo Elephants.
Photo of the Tournament (W)
My personal favourite from the ladies tournament comes from the Namaqualand Daisies defeat to the Madikwe Rangers as Marlize van Tonder dives full length, but is unable to keep out the penalty flick from Louise de Jager. The moment was captured expertly!
Some great PHL Trivia
Closing thoughts from those involved
“PHL is very exciting. We have started to realise that hockey needs to be taken a bit more seriously. The department of Sport and Recreation have been great in providing the money and SA Hockey have put a great product together and its just the start of many good things to come. You can already see it from the players and umpires involved”
“PHL is an incredible initiative and its the start of something great for SA Hockey. Its something we have needed in SA Hockey. Its also been different, playing with different players from your normal provincial lines. Having the ladies and guys tournaments together also makes it attractive for everyone”
“PHL has been a breath of fresh air and a great way to grow SA Hockey. Our pool of players is increasing and its great to see a bunch of players who may not have played in the IPT A due to their provincial lines. Its been refreshing and seeing the players buy into our approach has been great too!”
“PHL has been a great event which has been able to showcase the young talent in South African hockey. We had U16 girls part of the process and they have done really well. The growth of the teams over the tournament has been very good and the speed and action has been good. We are quite excited about the future of SA Womens Hockey”
“PHL is exactly what we have needed for a long time, its a great initiative. Its been great not just for the players but I have had a great experience of coaching alongside Lindsey Wright and we are just over the moon right now! What a great month it has been!”
“PHL is a great tournament which is just exciting for SA Hockey and the development of hockey. Its an exciting format that has combined youth and experience in a fantastic way. The quality increased as the tournament goes along and the more often we play at this level, the better our hockey will become”
“I think the PHL is a fantastic tournament, more specifically because the top 200 odd players in South Africa hearing directly from SA Hockey and the government about what the future plan is.”
“We werent expected to get very far in this tournament and we proved many people right with the way we started. But the way we dug in deep and qualified for the final makes me immensely proud and although we couldnt get the fairytale finish, we were really happy with how it went”
“PHL is the platform we have been looking to play in SA Hockey and we are delighted that the Department of Sport and Recreation came on board. The matches and results show that when the best of the best play against each other we can get some high quality hockey”