In recent years there have been some incredible fairy-tale victories in sport, where teams have risen against the odds to secure a title. None of these have been more prevalent in world sport than the victory of Leicester City in the Premier League in 2016. Of course, the blueprint for that success was actually written in 1980, when 16 hastily assembled, ill-prepared ladies represented Zimbabwe at the Moscow Olympics.
Liz Chase, one of two players with International experience having represented South Africa, was appointed vice-captain as Zimbabwe set about shocking the World with a gold medal. She scored in their opening win against Poland and again in the 2-2 draw with Czechoslovakia. She then set up the final goal in a 4-1 win against Austria to secure Zimbabwe a historic and unlikely gold medal.
Dubbed the “Golden Girls” by the media in Zimbabwe, they were met by cheering crowds on their return home and were briefly national celebrities.
Liz was born in Mutare, with her high school years being spent at Girls High School in Harare. Her hockey talent was seen early on and she has had an illustrious and distinguished playing career. From the National Schools team in 1966 to National under 21 and to the senior side, there was little that Liz had not accomplished.
Liz was a strong running, hard-hitting striker, with a turn of speed, good ball control, and great vision. Her skill on the field was matched by her coaching skills off it and this she took with her to South Africa. She was in charge of the phys ed department at Wits for a number of years until her retirement in 2015.
Liz was not just a significant force in Zimbabwean Hockey but also in South African Hockey. In 1976 and 1977 Liz was chosen to represent the Springbok Ladies Hockey team. Liz coached the Southern Gauteng Team in the early 90’s and went on to be a South African National Selector in the mid to late 90’s
Liz was the current Chairperson of the South African Players Association. The association is a past player-driven initiative to ensure a network of current and past players of the women’s national team. As has been said by many SA players Lizzie was the glue that kept the SA Players Association together. Her enthusiasm and passion were exceptional and contagious to all around her. We all owe it to Liz to continue her legacy and keep the SA Players Association active and functioning in the way she set it up.
The words of Jo Morley-Jepsen are the most appropriate to sum it up:
“Liz was an extraordinarily special lady who had the ability to make everyone feel better about themselves. She is going to be missed terribly by all who have had the privilege to know her. Liz was honest; fair; helpful, kind, passionate, professional and respectful.
Her resilience as a human being was so evident in the last few years of her life and particularly the last few days.
We, as a hockey community, have lost a true legend and an outstanding ambassador for the sport of hockey.
Rest in Peace Dear Lizzie.”