I am fortunate enough to be at the African Hockey Indoor Cup of Nations in Swakopmund in Namibia. In this the African representative at the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup will be decided and its being fought out between South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The daily reviews are on various social media channels, but here are some of the more poignant stories from the tournament.
Zimbabwe Men’s first International Indoor Goal for more than 20 Years
It has been special to have Zimbabwe in the tournament as it shows the way indoor hockey is starting to grow in the continent. There is indoor hockey popping up in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi and its only a matter of time before the indoor alternative of the sport really garners great interest. In the opening mens game of the tournament, Zimbabwe took the lead through Tendayi Maredza against South Africa. Altough the crowd was relatively small, the moment was massive. This was the first Indoor test goal for Zimbabwe in over 20 years and they knew it. It was a moment I am proud to have witnessed as the Zimbabweans celebrated like they had won the cup.
Namibian Men produce their brightest day
Much was expected of the Namibian women on day one, but it was the Namibian Men who captured the hearts of the Swakopmund Dome Crowd as they produced their finest display in Indoor Test matches to nearly beat South Africa. They lead 3-1 with 5 minutes to go and 3-2 with 30 seconds to go. The Cormack family are a blessing to Indoor Hockey and more so to Namibia and Trevor leads the men with a respectful manner that is hard to dislike. They have some incredible youngsters coming through the system and in Brynn Cleak they have a sensational player that I often wish was South African rather! If Namibia dont qualify for the World Cup they will hold their heads up high with happiness in that display and that they did the name of Namibia proud.
Justin Domleo, the man for any moment
Justin Domleo may not be the best known name on the SA Hockey circuit. He did not play in the PHL last year and does not feature for the SA Mens Outdoor. But as good as the likes of Tim Drummond, Austin Smith and Justin Reid-Ross are at outdoor hockey, Domleo is the equivalent in Indoor. This thought has been echoed by numerous fans and other coaches present here in Swakopmund this weekend. Justin has a brilliant technical ability, he has immense heart and plays the game like an ambassador of the sport should do. He was the man that even though ill, climbed on to the field and took a small gap to create the tying goal finished by Rusten Abrahams. As the Namibian assistant coach shared with me “There is no classier player in Africa than Justin Domleo”
TOPS @ SPAR and SPAR South Africa are the SA Players of the Tournament
Sometimes sponsorship’s just really click. The relationship between SPAR and the SA Womens Ladies is one of exceptional quality and to see their active interest in the performance of the team is a guideline to how business should approach sponsorship. That their fruitful relationship with the ladies has been so empowering has seen the brother company TOPS @ SPAR jump on board to support the Men’s side. It never sits well with me when national sports people have to pay to represent their country, but TOPS @ SPAR and SPAR have ensured that our best teams could be here to secure qualification World Cup.
Cindy Hack – First South African to 50 Indoor Test Caps
There is a lot less tests available in indoor hockey than in outdoor hockey. Throw into that a period of time away from the game when pregnant with her two children and then it is incredible that Cindy Hack has reached the milestone of 50 Indoor Test caps. Cindy is the first South African (Man or Women) to reach 50 Caps for South African Indoor hockey. In her career she has been to two Indoor Hockey World Cup and can count the likes of Kazhakstan, Czech Republic, USA and Holland amongst the 12 countries she has played against. Cindy thank you for your contribution to the game and your commitment to South African Indoor Hockey!
Tomorrow morning the final takes place to determine Africa’s representative at the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup. One last push! #RoadToBerlin