The SuperGroup SA Ladies Hockey team is currently involved in the Africa Cup Road to Tokyo tournament taking place in Stellenbosch.

Team Manager, Gill Doig, has been keeping a tournament diary for the team on her Facebook page. (with her permission) She has allowed me to share the daily goings-on of the team.

You can follow the team on these accounts;
Facebook – @SAwomensHockey
Instagram – @sawhockey
Twitter – @sawomenshockey

You can also stream the matches the ladies are playing in on shoott.co.za

AFRICA CUP CHRONICLES 🏑🇿🇦🏑🇿🇦#stellenboschstories #roadtotokyo

And so our story continues …..

Day 5 – TOURNAMENT REST DAY

Today was a mandatory “rest” day in the tournament week, but that doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t get onto the pitch! Here is a sample of the daily schedule – this gets put onto the team WhatsApp group each evening so that the players can prepare for the next day!

The “kit committee” will also post what colour training kit will be worn each day so the washing needs to be up to date!

Taren did a superb job of getting the washing done yesterday (photo evidence below) – crazy that we spend so much time talking about washing, but it’s a real factor in the daily life of a team! 🤣🤣

07.00 Breakfast 
07.30 Bus depart 
08.00-9.30 Training 
09.30 Bus back to hotel 
Rest 
13.00 Lunch 
13.30 – 18.30 Free time 
18.30 Dinner 
19.00 AF meeting with Marsha 
19.30-20.15 Team Debrief

All in all it was a pretty relaxed day today! The players had a chance to have some physio treatments with Cindy to ensure that any little niggles do not get serious; Louise had some quality “one on one” time with the players discussing their strengths and weaknesses! The mental side of the game is something that is so important and we have the opportunity now for the players to work with a professional in this regard! Everyone seems to be enjoying these sessions a lot!

The team had a meeting in the evening with ex SA player and captain Marsha Cox (nee Marescia)! So lovely to see her, what a legend!!

Dinner was at the hotel tonight and followed by a debrief of the Zimbabwe match!

Looking forward to resuming battle tomorrow in our match against our neighbours Namibia at 15h00! If you can’t get to Maties Stadium then please watch the live streaming on Shoott!

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And so our story continues …..

Day 4 – MATCH DAY vs ZIMBABWE

There was no sign of the rain from yesterday and the ladies had a great activation session around the hotel pool this morning – nobody landed up in the pool today! Clearly word had spread about the temperature of the water!

After breakfast there were various meetings with the defenders/forwards and then strapping, physio and rest time!

Taren set off on the dreaded laundry expedition, rubbish bags of laundry piled high, in order to find a reliable service provider – as mentioned previously, we cannot afford to have the kit ruined by washing it incorrectly!

The incredibly reliable chaps from RAW arrived with yet another extremely tasty lunch (I wish they would open in JHB!) which the ladies enjoyed!

Soon it was time to put on the green and gold and depart for the field – we took no chances with the traffic today and set off pretty early!

Rob and Inky opted to do the team talk at the field and then the team moved to the change room for s special celebration – captain Erin Hunter would be playing her 50th match for SA! The team always celebrates these milestones and today was no different – Dirkie said a speech, everyone was emotional and Erin got a shirt and card signed by all her team mates; which would be followed up on the field with a gorgeous bouquet of proteas and a SAHA pennant to mark the occasion!

The warm up concluded and it was time for the players to walk on to start their defence of this trophy and, most importantly, chase those all important world ranking points!

The game was a tough affair – lots going on, a bit of everything – cards, falls, but also 2 goals!! So, off to a gritty, winning start – 3 points on the table!

We watched the first half of the men’s game; had our ice baths, followed by dinner at the SAS again!

Back on the bus where there was, as always, LOTS of debate about the match!!! Lots of laughter too!

Tomorrow will be the time for the team to debrief the match together, once Rob and Inky have dissected Wayne’s video footage of the match! But for now – sleep!

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And so our story continues …..

Day 3 TOURNAMENT TIME

This would have been our first match day, but with the new schedule (received yesterday) our first match is now only tomorrow and so this was a practice day!

The day started with “activation” which is usually a slow run/bike and stretch! The ladies were in high spirits and various competitions were ongoing through the morning warm up – with the end result of Lisa losing the “fives alive” and ending up in the pool (shower cap and all)! Phumi then joined her for moral support, having slightly underestimated the temperature of the water!

Down to the business of hockey and we set off for the wonderful WP Cricket Club where we trained for s solid 2 hours! In typical CT fashion, we left the hotel in bright sunshine, half thinking about leaving our jackets behind; and ended up pretty chilly and wet an hour later!

Back to the hotel for lunch that was once again delivered from Raw and then time for a short rest in the afternoon!

We then experienced mid afternoon Cape Town traffic! 😩😩 Will certainly have to factor this into our match day timing! We staggered into the stadium slightly late for the men’s game – but we clearly brought them some luck as they scored all 3 of their goals once we had arrived! 😁😁 Well dome to our SA men on their 3-1 win over Namibia!

Dinner was another tasty meal at the SAS; before heading home on the bus with some rather good/loud/enthusiastic singing up and down the aisles!

We gave the ladies a quick recap/run down on the drug testing procedure – this can be quite a daunting process (especially if you have never been tested before) and so we wanted them to be as informed as possible as to what might happen!

Off to bed at about 22h00!

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And so our story continues …..

Day 2

We woke up to the news that the fixtures for the entire week had been changed, due to the unfortunate withdrawal of two countries! Slight curve ball for the team managers – transfers, meals, ice baths, practices and daily schedules which had all been planned – now needed to be re done! Oh well, keeps us out of mischief!

It was a relaxed morning – the team set off for the beautiful Cape Town waterfront for a few hours and after a relaxed lunch headed back to the hotel!

Barnabus, our trusty driver, took us through to the gorgeous Maties Hockey Stadium in Stellenbosch for our evening practice!

The management team had medical and technical meetings to attend; passport checks to do; equipment and kit needed to be checked and given the all clear! The tournament rules were updated to reflect the “round robin” format and the drug testing procedures were carefully explained!

Meanwhile, the players were warming up (if that is possible in the weather and rain that rolled in) and getting ready for practice! This became quite a “stop start” affair – the players running on and off the field depending on how hard it was raining, how far they could see, and the angle of the rain!! 😨🤔 Despite the rain however, there was much laughter and a great energy on the field with many side bets and challenges being made – especially around the PC variations!!

Taren decided that ice baths were not a necessity this evening- much to the relief of most players!

We were hosted for dinner at the fantastic Stellenbosch Academy of Sport – thanks Rob Benadie and team, what an incredible set up you have! Really appreciate you looking after the team this week!

Transfer back to our hotel – ready for a good night’s sleep!

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And so our story continues …..

Day 1 TRAVEL DAY

It has been a gruelling few weeks of non-stop hockey after our return from Spain – some players went straight to USSA; league matches continued; provincial trials have taken place; and the PHL tournament finished off a busy month!

The ladies then gathered in JHB this week for a selection camp which culminated on Thursday with the final 18 players being chosen to represent SA at the Africa Cup, in Stellenbosch – the second phase of our Olympic Qualification process!

The team arrived at OR Tambo bright and early for departure to Cape Town 🙂after a days rest yesterday! Extra baggage was negotiated, as too the security line! Wimpy coffees were enjoyed and we then boarded our flight, only to wait a good 20min on the plane for it to be refueled 🙈🙈🙈

We landed in CT and were met by our awesome driver Barnabas, who is so friendly and smiley – and saw our personalized bus for the first time! 👍Absolutely awesome! Thank you SUPERGROUP!

We checked in to the Nelson Mandela Boulevard Garden Court – home for the next 9 days – and had the most amazing chicken and noodles from Raw Catering Co for lunch! Thanks to Red Bull for sponsoring our lunches for the tournament!

Had the afternoon off, followed by a team meeting before dinner in our dedicated team room at the hotel! Thank you TSOGO Sun for looking after the SA Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams so incredibly!

Not an eventful day! Looking forward to tomorrow when we go through to the tournament venue and start the process of competing for the Africa Cup! 🏑🏑🏑

Feature image: KYM Clayton