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The South African Mens Hockey team are furthering their preparation for the Hockey World Cup in India in December. South Africa will be competing for the sixth time at the 14th staging of the event and will be hoping to emulate or better the class of 1994 and 2010.

In building up for the World Cup, South African hockey are pleased to be hosting France in a four match test series to be played at Wits University in Johannesburg. France secured the final spot at the 2018 World Cup when they finished 7th at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals at the same venue, so it will be bring happy memories to the French.

For South African coach Mark Hopkins, it will be the first time that the South African Hockey supporting public can see him preside over a home fixture, before heading off to India for the World Cup.

With the World Cup now just under two months away, both France and South Africa, ranked 16th and 15th in the world respectively, will field most of their World Cup squads with the impetus largely on fine tuning rather than recreating.

The final fixtures for the series, including time of hit-off, will be released shortly.   

South Africa’s Mens squad to play France (Caps after names)

  1. Tim Drummond (captain) - 131 
  2. Dayaan Cassiem – 17
  3. Taylor Dart – 18
  4. Tyson Dlungwana – 18
  5. Jethro Eustice – 95
  6. Rhett Halkett – 148
  7. Tommy Hammond – 68
  8. Keenan Horne – 34
  9. Julian Hykes – 122
  10. Gowan Jones – GK – 42
  11. Peabo Lembethe – 0
  12. Mo Mea – 14
  13. Owen Mvimbi - 28
  14. Bili Ntuli – 26
  15. Taine Paton – 104
  16. Rassie Pieterse – GK – 133
  17. Austin Smith – 158
  18. Nic Spooner – 1

The South African Hockey Association has today released the names of the 18 men who will go to the FIH Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar in India for the 14th edition of the premier International Field Hockey tournament for Men.

South Africa will head to the tournament for the 6th time looking to outdo their previous best of 10th place, achieved in both 2010 and 1994. To do that they will have to get out of a tough group featuring the hosts India, the world number 3 Belgium and world number 11 Canada. The new format of the World Cup means that one victory could secure you a third place spot in the group where a crossover match awaits ahead of potential quarter finals. South Africa will most definitely be inspired by the journeys of Ireland and Spain at the Women’s Hockey World Cup earlier this year, in looking to cause an upset that would really cause waves in India.

In goals South Africa will call on the experience of Rassie Pieterse and Gowan Jones for the battle for number 1. Both were in fact in the South African squad for the 2014 edition so neither should be overwhelmed by the opportunity. European based duo Rhett Halkett and Austin Smith, both centurions for South Africa will lead the defensive line alongside 2018 IPT Player of the Tournament Mo Mea, 2018 PHL Player of the Tournament Jethro Eustice and of course U21 IPT victorious skipper Tyson Dlungwana.

If fans are excited about the defensive combinations available there is no doubt they will be absolutely salivating at the thought of Nic Spooner donning the green and gold again. The previous Hockey India League player is a star in Germany and his star quality is there for all to see. He is joined by arguably South Africa’s most consistent performer over the past 12 months in Tommy Hammond, as well as a man playing his best hockey in the past few years in Taylor Dart. Keenan Horne has continually impressed for club and province and gets the nod as well as the exciting Northern Blues man Peabo Lembethe. Of course the midfield will be anchored as always by national captain Tim Drummond, a man who shows you how the game should be played both on and off the pitch.

Up front the goal scoring form of Richard Pautz has made him a name that can’t be left out and he is joined by veteran striker Julian Hykes, who appears to be getting younger rather than older in the past 6 months. Another centurion in the team is Taine Paton who also featured at Holland 2014, and then the line-up is complete by the two most exciting young talents in the country. Big game goal scorer Bili Ntuli and the sensational hands of  Dayaan Cassiem.

Coach Mark Hopkins shared his thoughts on the squad:

“The entire squad has focused on building our brand and culture off the pitch and our style on the pitch. I am extremely excited by the squad that is going to represent South Africa at the FIH Hockey World Cup, and humbled by the work behind the scenes to ensure we are as well prepared as possible. We have selected a squad that is able to play a style of hockey that we will get the most out of our talents and also compete against some of the best in the World.

It is critical that we continue to focus on developing our offensive and defensive strategies and execute our game plan consistently. The squad will be led by Tim Drummond and I am sure everyone will get behind him to ensure we deliver our expectations.”

South Africa’s World Cup group fixtures

28 November 2018 – India vs. South Africa
2 December 2018 – Canada vs. South Africa
8 December 2018 – Belgium vs. South Africa

South Africa’s World Cup squad (Caps after names)

  1. Tim Drummond (captain) - 131 
  2. Dayaan Cassiem – 17
  3. Taylor Dart – 18
  4. Tyson Dlungwana – 18
  5. Jethro Eustice – 95
  6. Rhett Halkett – 148
  7. Tommy Hammond – 68
  8. Keenan Horne – 34
  9. Julian Hykes – 122
  10. Gowan Jones – GK – 42
  11. Peabo Lembethe – 0
  12. Mo Mea – 14
  13. Bili Ntuli – 26
  14. Taine Paton – 104
  15. Richard Pautz – 16
  16. Rassie Pieterse – GK – 133
  17. Austin Smith – 158
  18. Nic Spooner – 1

Tevin Kok of South Africa runs with the ball during the Mens Pool A Hockey match between South Africa and Scotland on day one of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast Hockey Centre on April 5, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia.

(April 4, 2018 - Source: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac)

The South African Hockey Association is pleased to announce a further twelve players that will join the South African Men’s Hockey team. Although they will not form part of the World Cup Squad, they will take part in the training camps and form part of the structure in the period following the FIH Hockey World Cup in India later this year.

With South Africa due to take part in the Open Series Finals, which replaced the World League, in 2019 in a bid to qualify for the Olympic Games, having the group of players together is important for Mark Hopkins and his coaching team to start building the processes towards Tokyo 2020. The twelve will join the already announced 29 players in being part of the larger squad.

From the FIH World League Semi-Final played in Johannesburg last year, Tevin Kok is selected. The Northern Blues striker has shown some blistering pace and ability when given the opportunity. Siya Nolutshungu, who is unavailable for the World Cup due to personal reasons, is named. Nolutshungu was the goalkeeper of the tournament at the CTM Premier Hockey League which completed this weekend. Both men were part of the South African team at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.

There are a handful of players with 5 or less caps including Melrick Maddocks, who went to the African Cup in Egypt last year, Indoor Hockey national Rusten Abrahams, Alex Stewart, Andrew Hobson and Matt de Sousa, who was victorious at both IPT and PHL this year.

Michael Abrahams from Eastern Province earns his first call up and will be joined by Thabang Modise, Mark Chong, Sam Mvimbi and Chris Makaba.

With less than 100 days to go to the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup the excitement around South African Men’s Hockey will be reaching fever pitch.

Additional Squad Players

No.

Name

Province

Caps**

1

Tevin Kok

Northern Gauteng

20

2

Michael Abrahams

Eastern Province

0

3

Melrick Maddocks

Free State

5

4

Alex Stewart

Western Province

2

5

Mark Chong

South Africa U21

0

6

Siya Nolutshungu (GK)

Eastern Province

6

7

Sam Mvimbi

South Africa U21

0

8

Andrew Hobson

South Africa U21

3

9

Thabang Modise

Southern Gauteng

0

10

Matt de Sousa

Kwazulu Natal

1

11

Rusten Abrahams

Southern Gauteng

3

12

Chris Makaba

South Africa U21

0

* caps as per FIH TMS as at 30 August 2018

Photo - Marcel Sigg (Run Ride Dive)
Photo - Marcel Sigg (Run Ride Dive)

The FIH Hockey World Cup takes place in Bhubaneswar in India from the 28 November until the 16 December this year. With the FIH Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup completed this past weekend, the eyes of the International hockey audience will shift to India for the 14th edition of the men’s showpiece.

South Africa will be taking part in its 6th World Cup with a best finish of 10th achieved in 1994 and in 2010 when the World Cup was hosted in Delhi. With that in mind today South African Hockey announce a greater 29-man squad from which the final 18 will be picked following the completion of the South African Men’s IPT in Pietermaritzburg.

The new coaching team, appointed for before the Commonwealth Games and headed by coach Mark Hopkins, have adopted a transparent and informative culture within South African Hockey and it was refreshing to see regular discussions between Mark and the provincial coaches throughout the tournament. Mark firmly believes that the team selected should not just be heroes on the field, but most definitely heroes off it as well, with one of the mottos of the team "humans first, hockey players second". 

Convenor of Selectors Allistar Fredericks shared his thoughts on the squad; “The selection process was a robust process as the four selectors (Allistar Fredericks, Mark Sanders, Mark Hopkins and Devon van der Merwe) have identified quality players from which coach Mark Hopkins will have a talent pool to work with. We have put together an experienced squad with a great group of youngsters. Every player at the tournament was watched and considered for selection-based form at this IPT, not because of past performances. This is a fantastic group of players and a squad that we are excited about. We also know that it will be an incredibly challenging process to finalise the 18 for the World Cup, but we are looking forward to it immensely!”

Tim Drummond, who captained South Africa in the recent Commonwealth Games and World League Semi-Finals, has been reappointed as the captain for World Cup squad.  

Rassie Pieterse earns a call up on the back of an outstanding IPT, where he was named keeper of the tournament, and he is joined by the IPT Player of the Tournament, Mo Mea. Jared Cass, a superb defender for the SA Invitational U21 side is also rewarded with a place in the 29-man squad.

The experienced trio of Rhett Halket, Julian Hykes and Jonty Robinson all return having featured in the FIH World League Semi-Finals last year but missed out on the Commonwealth Games. Their collective experience of about 400 combined caps will be a massive lift to younger players like Dayaan Cassiem, Ryan Julius and Nqobile Ntuli, but also to the squad.

Paebo Lembethe, who captained the Northerns Blues to fourth place in the IPT, earns his first call-up, while the likes of Taylor Dart, Clinton Panther, Lance Louw and Richard Pautz are given opportunities to add to their caps for the National team.

Of course, a major coup for the selection team is the availability of Nic Spooner, who showed consistently in Pietermaritzburg the class that has seen him win the EHL and included in the Hockey India League in the past.

The selectors have also taken the opportunity to name a further 12 squad members who form part of the initial plans for the next 18 months or so but will not be used for the World Cup. These include some exciting talents like Tevin Kok, Rusten Abrahams, Andrew Hobson and Mark Chong.

Next on the agenda for the men will be the Premier Hockey League starting on Saturday at Randburg Astro turf. Further announcements about camps and fixtures will be made on www.sahockey.co.za

SA Hockey Men’s World Cup Squad 2018*

 

No.

Name

Province

Caps**

1

Dan Bell

Southern Gauteng

46

2

Matt Brown

Southern Gauteng

4

3

Jared Cass

South Africa U21

0

4

Dayaan Cassiem

South Africa U21

17

5

Richard Curtis (GK)

Kwazulu Natal

5

6

Taylor Dart

Southern Gauteng

18

7

Tyson Dlungwana

Northern Gauteng

18

8

Tim Drummond

Kwazulu Natal

131

9

Jethro Eustice

Kwazulu Natal

95

10

Rhett Halkett

Western Province

148

11

Tommy Hammond

Southern Gauteng

21

12

Keenan Horne

Western Province

34

13

Julian Hykes

Southern Gauteng

122

14

Gowan Jones (GK)

Kwazulu Natal

42

15

Ryan Julius

Western Province

24

16

Peabo Lembethe

Northern Gauteng

0

17

Lance Louw

Southern Gauteng

27

18

Mohamed Mea

Kwazulu Natal

14

19

Owen Mvimbi

Southern Gauteng

28

20

Nqobile Ntuli

Kwazulu Natal

26

21

Clinton Panther

Kwazulu Natal

100

22

Taine Paton

Kwazulu Natal

104

23

Richard Pautz

Southern Gauteng

16

24

Rassie Pieterse (GK)

Southern Gauteng

133

25

Jonty Robinson

Kwazulu Natal

115

26

Reza Rosenberg

Southern Gauteng

23

27

Daniel Sibbald

Kwazulu Natal

44

28

Austin Smith

Western Province

158

29

Nic Spooner

Southern Gauteng

1

*Squad will be trimmed to 18 players for the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup
** Caps as per the FIH TMS system at 06-08-2018

 

The Commonwealth Games was always due to be a learning experience for the young South African team led by Mark Hopkins for the first time. It had been an incredibly tough start but in small patches, there had been signs of the quality for the South African Men. Taking on Canada was about continuing this learning experience but also it was a chance to take the upper hand in the mental game ahead of the World Cup where the two nations are in the same pool.

Canada, who have ranked four spots ahead of South Africa, were definitely caught surprised as South Africa brought an intensity that they had struggled to reach earlier in the tournament. The Men were probably spurred on by the chat from 100m champion Akani Simbine the night before and felt inspired to do the country proud. They did the country proud.

Although the first half proved to be a cagey affair that ended goalless, Canada had produced a few great opportunities in the second quarter but found Siya Nolutshungu in inspired form. The one save he made off his right foot was nothing short of World Class. For a diminutive keeper, he fills the goal immensely well.

South Africa seemed to click up a gear in the second half and that was inspired by an early goal by Indoor and Outdoor dual national youngster Ryan Julius. Julius had the bravery to get his stick on to the end of a superb ball by Gareth Heyns to give South Africa a 1-0 lead.

That was very nearly 2 when an incredibly executed short corner was deflected home by Captain Tim Drummond. The goal was sent upstairs for a review, which took longer than normal, before being reversed and giving Drummond a yellow card for creating danger. The goal has been long debated on social media with various parties giving different opinions, but the overarching fact was that South Africa was on top.

As South Africa camped in the Canadian half it felt like it was only a matter of time before a second was scored, but we would have to wait until the final minute of the game when Canada withdrew their keeper and a quick-thinking overhead by Austin Smith was put into an empty net by Reza Rosenberg. 2-0 was the score and it was a deserving scoreline.

Although South Africa will still play for 9/10, Coach Mark Hopkins will be much happier with the application of his players and will be really happy with the performance of some of his youngsters, who are showing their adaptation is progressing quite smoothly.

Final Result
South Africa 2-0 Canada

Next Match
9/10 Playoff – Friday 13 April – 00:30 – South Africa vs. Wales

Next Match – SA Women
5/6 Playoff – Friday 13 April – 06:00 – South Africa vs. Malaysia

The Commonwealth Games have been a baptism of fire for the young South African Men's squad featuring 9 players under the age of 25, and a handful of those playing at their first ever major tournament. After the opening defeats to Scotland and Australia, a meeting against bogey side New Zealand would not have been the most exciting appetiser for the South Africans. 

However, that is the way that tournament hockey goes and less than 24 hours after the 4-0 defeat at the hands of the hosts, South Africa was back on the turf taking on a New Zealand side that they have never beaten at a major tournament. South Africa would have headed into the game attempting to keep it tight for as long as possible, but those plans were quickly blown away as Kane Russell rocked the crowd with a sublime penalty corner. 

From that point on New Zealand were in full and total control and ran that advantage home with three goals in the second quarter through Russell, a field goal from Jared Panchia and another penalty corner goal from Nic Woods. The Black Sticks then set out the professional task of closing out the game in the second half and did it with some great ease. 

The scoring did not stop though as they netted a further two goals through George Muir and Nick Ross. South Africa did have a golden opportunity after Tevin Kok did all the hard work but fluffed his lines in front of goal. The full-time score leaving South Africa with another disappointing whitewash. 

South Africa will have one more group game left on Wednesday when they take on Canada. As results stand they will still have a chance to finish higher up the table and possibly finish higher than 9th or 10th, and they will know exactly what is needed by the time that game ticks underway. 

For the youngsters and new players in the team, there is still an opportunity to put their hands up for continued selection as eyes will all be locked on India and the FIH Hockey World Cup

Final Result
South Africa 0-6 New Zealand

 

Both the SA Hockey Men and SA Hockey Women approached their second match at the Commonwealth Games with a renewed determination to change their fortunes after opening defeats.

The SA Men had the toughest possible opponent to attempt that against as they came up against Australia the current World League, Azlan Shah and Oceania Cup champions and the only team to ever win a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal. The supposed gulf in class was not evident in the opening 30 minutes as the SA Men looked a different team from the one turned over early by Scotland.

South Africa had an early Penalty corner saved off the line, while consistently denying Australia the clear cut opportunities expected of them. Ryan Crowe, Ryan Julius, and Bili Ntuli all fashioned half chances, but the kind of chances that you would need to convert if you are to beat the Australians. The wind would have been taken out of the sails somewhat as Trent Milton made it 1-0 to the hosts.

South Africa continued to show incredible heart and there were some great saves from Gowan Jones and Tim Drummond, who twice cleared off the line, to deny the Australians a runaway lead. But the second half, in truth, was all Australia and they eventually got the goals that their dominance probably deserved. Milton, Jeremy Hayward, and Aaron Kleinschmidt scored the goals that settled the result as 4-0 in favour of the world number one.

Final Result
South Africa 0-4 Australia

Next Game
8 April – 08:32 – South Africa vs. New Zealand

The SA Hockey Women would have hoped to cause an upset against England in their opener, but would not have been overly upset with the 2-0 loss. Their focus would be on winning the next two games and setting up a grandstand match against India to decide the spot in the top 4.

They came up against a Malaysian side who had been turned over 4-1 by the Indians and looked on paper like a routine win. But this was far from a one-sided game. Malaysia picked up five penalty corners in the match to South Africa’s six. The circle penetrations were 30-22 in favour of South Africa, while there were 14 shots apiece.

South Africa will be frustrated at their inability to finish chances and found themselves 1-0 down after Said popped up to give the Malaysians the lead. South Africa leveled in the first minute of the last quarter when Stephanie Baxter latched onto a loose ball to cross for Jade Mayne to finish. South Africa then laid siege to the opposition D but could not convert. Kristen Paton and Shelley Jones were particularly impressive in their attempts but Malaysia was resolute in defence and had a great chance to seal the game themselves with a late break.

The result means that South Africa have to win their remaining two games to get into the top 4, no draws will be enough.

Final Result
South Africa 1-1 Malaysia

Next Game
9 April – 06:32 – South Africa vs. Wales

Allistar Fredericks became a hero for many when he became the first player of colour to represent South Africa’s Hockey Men. In a career that saw Fredericks feature at the 1996 Summer Olympics, the striker collected 57 goals in his 59 caps.  

The Atlanta Olympics stood out for Ally as a special moment in his career as he also got to make the whole Olympic Team speech to Nelson Mandela at his Pretoria home before they departed for the Olympic Games. Since retiring in 1998 I asked Ally what has been keeping him busy?

“Since then I have coached at National and Provincial Level, been the assistant coach to SA men for about Five years, a selector for a few years and now I am the Convenor of selectors. I also run the Allistar Fredericks Hockey Development Trust fund, we fund hockey-playing kids in need of a good academic foundation and quality hockey school, Beaulieu College offers all of these, I also run my own PSi Franchise called PSi Gauteng Gryphons and an indoor business which has kept a lot of us busy”

Speaking of being the convenor of selectors Ally admits there is much difficulty due to there being very little contact time with the players. “We only really get to see them at certain main events and that is where we select our current crop from, we also rely on past performances and the experience of the player and if importantly if the player can still add value to our set up within the National team.” There is also a host of exciting youngsters being called upon and Ally shared that he was particularly excited by the emergence of Dayaan Cassiem (who’s dad played alongside Ally): “I think he is an incredible quality player and he will develop incredibly well if we look after him”. Fredericks was also particularly impressed with the development of Bili Ntuli and Melrick Maddocks who he backs for future success at the highest level.

Digging into the PSi side of things, the Gauteng Gryphons are the biggest Franchises in the sport and recently celebrated their tenth anniversary. The Gryphons were started by Reza Rosenberg (part of the 2018 Indoor World Cup Squad) and Ally Fredericks and have grown remarkably. Kids like Kamal Ramburuth Hurt, Keegan Kieck, Brandon James and now Rusten Abrahams have gone through the Gryphons process to play for South Africa. Sticking to hockey development Ally is also the man behind the Beaulieu Hockey Academy.

“Beaulieu Hockey Academy we started about 8 years ago and our club now boasts one of the best Junior setups and Senior teams. The College is also now ranked amongst the best Hockey schools at Boys and Girls levels and we boast a staff complement that includes National players.” 

Ally is the father of three kids Keagan (24), Taylor (19) and Tristan (11). Naturally, I was interested if any of these have decided to follow their father’s legacy. “Tristan is the only one who has shown passion for the game and has become quite the little player, his destined to follow in his father’s footsteps”

And being actively involved in both indoor and outdoor hockey, I had to know which one has a fonder place in Ally’s heart. “Indoor is my first love, purely because of what it has done to the skills levels of our kids, parents enjoy it and all the kids prefer it.”

In closing, I asked Ally for his final message to share with the young hockey-playing children of South Africa. “My message is that no matter what circumstances you come from, nothing must deter you to achieve your dreams, as a boy from the dusty streets of Kimberley playing on sand will tell you, Hockey has allowed me to meet my Hero Mr. Nelson Mandela and travel the world”

The Breakaway is written for SA Hockey by Tyron “Jabu” Barnard

Original image - Marcel Sigg

The South African Hockey sides head to the Gold Coast to take on the Commonwealth Games. The SA Hockey Men feature an exciting and youthful squad including one of the most refreshing attacking talents in some years, Nqobile “Bili” Ntuli.

Bili is now 22 and has already earned himself 21 caps and picked up six goals for the Amastokke. This includes the FIH World League and now the Kearsney College old boy will be part of the team looking to ruffle a few feathers in Australia!

Get to know our striker ahead of the Commonwealth Games!

Although it is already 21 caps ago, please tell us about the moment you got to make your debut for SA?

It was something I’d been waiting for and dreaming about for a long time but didn’t expect it so soon either. We played against Ireland in Cape Town a day after my birthday and secured a 3-3 result, so it was pretty memorable.

You featured in the Junior Hockey World Cup in 2016 in India, including scoring a goal in the victory against Austria. What was the Junior World Cup experience like?

The Hockey Junior World Cap was an incredible experience! Firstly, playing with a talented group in my generation who were hungry to make history and then, playing at a major FIH tournament. To play against India in a packed stadium in Lucknow, where hockey is a religion, indescribable.

Photo - Marcel SiggImage - Marcel Sigg

You already have a pretty sensational hockey CV, what has been your best hockey experience so far?

It’s really hard to think one as I’ve been so blessed with a few amazing opportunities. The Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, where South Africa finished fourth, are up there but I think winning the Africa cup in Egypt against the hosts in the final was the most special.

How are you feeling about the preparation of the Commonwealth Games?

My individual prep was interrupted by some terrible news (Nqobile’s younger sister passed away unexpectedly) but since then I’ve knuckled down and joined the squad for camps has been a massive boost for me, the excitement around the team with the new coach has been a big motivation - we’re an ambitious young group with a new coach and fresh ideas, we’ll be tested.

As a striker who do you look up to in your hockey?

I’ve always looked up to Lloyd Norris-Jones and tried to emulate his aggression in and around the D but also Tom Boon has a lot of attributes that I try to learn from

Who has played the biggest role in your career so far?

Probably my brother (Sihle Ntuli), he’s motivated me to try and be the best and just set an example for my peers since I was young. His attitude towards succeeding at all costs is something I’ve adopted

There are a lot of youngsters in our CWG squad, are you excited about the future of SA Hockey?

It’s extremely exciting but at the same time daunting. We are motivated and hungry along with our new coach and a bit of experience in the setup. Credit to the selectors for making big decisions and backing us

You can continue to support the rise of Bili by following him on social media @bili_ntuli27 on Instagram and Twitter.

Photo - Marcel Sigg / Run Ride Dive
Image -  Marcel Sigg / Run Ride Dive

Mark Hopkins has been named as the head coach of the South African Men’s Hockey for the period up to and including the 2018 FIH Hockey World Cup in India. The new coach succeeds Fabian Gregory, who stepped down after the FIH World League Semi-Finals in South Africa, and interim head coach Sheldon Rostron who completed the unheralded double gold at the African Hockey Cup of Nations.

“The process to select the next national coach was a robust process that has identified the best candidate for the job,” shared David Viney head of the High Performance at SA Hockey, “we are confident that Mark has the right approach that will take the programme in the right direction and we look forward to seeing the progress under his guidance”

Born and educated in Solihull, England, Mark played schools hockey for his county, Warwickshire and then The Midlands. He first came to South Africa in 1997 and settled in Cape Town coaching at SACS and playing for the Constantia club, before returning to England in 1999. For the next six years, he coached at the University of Wales in Cardiff and also became involved with Welsh hockey coaching right through from under 16 to senior level with both the men and ladies teams.

He answered the call from the Bloemendaal club in Holland in 2007. This club is among the biggest club sides anywhere in the world, and he was Youth Director as well as the being involved in the coaching setup. In 2010 he turned to the world of business and went to Vietnam to join a World Talent Group before coming to Johannesburg last year. In 2009 Mark married a Durban lady, Lindsay, so that was an easy decision to want to return as Lindsay had been out of South Africa for some 13 years

Hopkins then started lighting up his name on the South African Hockey radar when he took up the mantle of Southern Gauteng men collecting a silver and a gold medal in 2015 and 2016 IPT’s respectively. He also featured as a coach of the Garden Route Gazelles at the Premier Hockey League and led Riverside Hockey Club to the 2017 Riverside Elite Club Challenge title.

When not involved in hockey, Hopkins spends as much time as possible with his 8-year-old son, the youngest ever finisher of the Midmar Mile. He also loves spending time in the bush and hiking.

“I am honoured to be given the opportunity to take on the role of national head coach and I look forward to working with an outstandingly talented group of players. I believe in creating the right environment for the players to be as successful as they can be,” Hopkins shared “I am excited by the young talent we have in our system. I truly believe the hockey community in South Africa can be immensely proud that we have a pool with this level of talent in.”

Hopkins first assignment will be the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April, while an eye will be firmly on the FIH Hockey World Cup later in the year as major ranking points will be up for grabs. Hopkins will be keen to get South Africa back up the rankings table.

Tim Drummond, the captain of the South African Hockey Men, shared his thoughts:

“The announcement of the new coach Mark Hopkins is very exciting for this talented squad of players. We have a hugely important year with the World Cup at the end of November. The Commonwealth Games in April will be an excellent opportunity for some members of the South African Men’s squad to experience a multi-sport event and prepare for the World Cup in India.

Mark will bring some fresh ideas and a positive mentality to all things on and off the pitch, which I know the players will enjoy having worked with him before. He is driven and ambitious and I know he will get the best out of each member in the greater squad.

The squad is gaining great momentum after winning Africa Cup last October and this appointment will definitely motivate the squad to strive to not only be better players but more importantly, role models for the young players in South Africa.”

South African Hockey looks forward to Mark taking charge and wish him all the best for the year ahead.

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