New Varsity hockey clubhouse in PMB signals new era for the sport at UKZN
The newly built University of KZN Hockey Clubhouse has been officially opened. The keynote address was by UKZN Hockey Old Boy and KZN Inland Hockey treasurer, Brian Edwards, and present at the event were KZN Inland Hockey president Gary Carson, and KZN Inland executive member and UKZN Hockey Old Girl Janet Edwards, the retired former provincial and SA Universities player, Carter High School vice-principal and senior KZN education executive who has done an enormous amount for the sport, particularly in the Pietermaritzburg region.
Apart from the wise words of the legendary Brian Edwards, the tireless former Springbok captain and coach in the days of segregation and a devoted hockey man who has also added so much value to the game in many other areas since unification, there were further contributions.
Gary Carson, who gives much to the sport at provincial and national level, as well as in SA Country Districts' hockey, victorious PMB Varsity centre back and Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier-winning captain for SA U21, Robin Jones, as well as longtime former Varsity and KZN Inland goalkeeper Ryan Gray - unlucky to miss out on representing South Africa at the Indoor World Cup - spoke on what the new clubhouse will mean for university and KZN Inland hockey.
"Based on the Pietermaritzburg campus, the University of KZN now has a first-class hockey facility," said former SA men's Indoor Hockey World Cup manager and driving force behind the splendid new Varsity hockey centre, Reggie Smith, who, amongst his heavy workload that includes Varsity Cup and Shield rugby, is also the UKZN sports department’s long-time hockey administrator and a prominent South African and KZN Inland hockey personality who has done much to grow the sport in Pietermaritzburg and further afield.
With its own water-based artificial turf - a product of the Willowton, PMB-based Greenfields synthetic turf systems, which is managed by former PMB Varsity captain Ayden Shrives, the total Varsity hockey package in PMB now includes a well-appointed clubhouse with fantastic changerooms plus modern offices for coaches and more.
“This facility will ensure that the university can host major hockey events, as well as run mini-hockey and academy programmes where parents can wait in the comfort of the clubhouse and have a cup of coffee,” said Smith. “The university can therefore fulfil its role in the development continuum of the hockey talent in the KZN Inland region”
What made the day very special was the ladies’ and men’s matches between the current university first teams and past PMB and UKZN Varsity players. The past women’s team included prominent current and former players in Kim Pretorius, Tracy Pretorius, Roxanne Hammond, Kara Stella and Haley Bevis.
The past PMB and UKZN Varsity men’s players included Beijing 2008 Olympian Geoff Abbott, former KZN Inland provincial stars Karl Oftebro, Ryan Gray, SA Junior World Cup forward Duzo Khanyile and Ayden Shrives, and the always-underrated former PMB Varsity player Brett Campbell, while injured (knee) and still-young former SA Player of the Year, PMB and UKZN Varsity star and Beijing 2008 Olympian Tommy Hammond's presence was felt.
Beijing 2008 Olympian and legendary former PMB Varsity, UKZN and KZN Inland captain, midfielder and player/coach Darryn Gallagher, who led his teams to numerous titles, was busy preparing and piloting the 2012 SA Junior World Cup team to the Africa continent's title and with it entry into the 2013 JWC finals in New Delhi, India.
“The day was well supported by former and current varsity players and gave old friends the opportunity to catch up and share old and new stories in an environment in which everybody can feel at home," Smith added.
The clubhouse and turf present an exciting future for Pietermaritzburg, UKZN Varsity and KZN Inland hockey, which will undoubtedly have a significant ripple effect in growing and embellishing the sport in South Africa at all levels.
An edited version of this story was first published in Maritzburg Fever.
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