This past weekend I was invited to attend my first ever Belgotex Elite Club Challenge at the Riverside Hockey Club in Durban North. It was quite exciting for me as I had first tweeted three years ago that I wish I was at the event but the stars never aligned fully until this year.
Having spent a weekend watching my favourite sport at one of my favourite venues i was left with some to reflect on the 2019 Belgotex Elite Club Challenge. Here are some of my take aways from a superb weekend down at the coast!
Game of the Weekend – Beaulieu 3-5 Riverside
There was a handful of games on the weekend that could have taken the top honour including the Old Eds vs. Riverside humdinger, the womens bronze medal match or of course the Beaulieu vs. WPCC. But ultimately this was my favourite game. There was a lot of pressure on Riverside as anything but a victory would have settle the title for Wanderers. Riverside found themselves 2-0 down early to Julian Hykes double strike but surged forward in a pulsating hour of hockey. At 4-3 up there was a big opportunity for Beaulieu that went missing and Riverside quickly surged up the other end with a breathtaking counter attack that would impress most hockey fans. What a game and what an advert for club hockey.
Five Players that Impressed me
So instead of picking a player of the tournament I thought Id pick out five players that stood out for me in terms of performance. Obviously Keagan Robinson and Lisa Deetlefs, the selected players of the tournaments, impressed immensely, but I decided to make it five others that did not receive the individual awards:
Marvin Simons – The young Beaulieu attacker should be the first name on every hockey fans lips when they are talking about our bright future in the game! He is superb
Sylvia van Jaarsveldt – She is a natural goalscorer and simply clinical in front of the goals. You cannot give her two chances
Miguel da Graca – The Wanderers striker is not getting younger, but his quality has not diminished. Almost everything good goes through him and he was pivotal in putting Wanderers into top spot ahead of the final round.
Mmatshepo Modipane – The goalkeeper for the Crusaders was sensational and continues to enhance her reputation as the countries number 2.
Taylor Kelly-Stack – The standout moment in the final game was his goal line hook that saved the game for Riverside and ultimately the title. Watch the video. It was special. He also popped up with some goals in the tournament. He is definitely a name I will remember.
The overall feeling that I got from the tournament was that the most important thing was the players. They needed to be spoiled and their stories needed to be told. It was an event worth remembering and the media and entertainment teams put together were always going to assist. Zach Zinn on the photography, Lee Persse on the social media and Gos and Wade from Enhanced Sports on the Video were world class as always.
Melody “The Sheriff” Miya was a world class MC, although we knew that already. And the tournament director and technical officials raised the game to challenge any other tournament anywhere in Africa.
Thank you Belgotex for having me at the 2019 Challenge, lets do it again next year?