Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
After 176 games for the South African Women’s Hockey Team, the diminutive midfielder Illse Davids has decided to hang up her stick and call time on her international career. Having debuted back in 2007 at Kenya in the African Hockey Cup of Nations, the former Wynberg Girls High School student, was a constant on the team sheet under Jenny King, Giles Bonnet and later under Sheldon Rostron. Along her career, Illse Davids represented South Africa at two Commonwealth Games (2014 & 2018), the 2014 FIH Hockey World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics. Of course at that 2012 Olympic Games South Africa finished 10th, but an absolute highlight, both of that tournament and of Illse’s career, was the 7-0 demolition of USA in the Pool B encounter. Another game that stood out for was a 4-0 win over Argentina in Bloemfontein in 2010, the first time South Africa had ever beaten Argentina. The decision to retire came on the back of the calf injury she incurred at the Commonwealth Games in the 1-1 draw against Malaysia, limiting her to just two appearances and ultimately made Illse decide to call it time on her International career.
National co-captain Sulette Damons will look back fondly on the career of Illse Davids: “She’s a true role model on and off the field. Her infectious laugh put a smile on our faces at the toughest of times. Her passion for the game, her knowledge of the game and will to win are what I admire most about Illse. It’s been a massive honour to learn from her and to play alongside her.” Although Illse is still keen to play Provincial hockey, her passion for the game extends further as she is now the hockey manager as well as a coach at Hoër MeisiesSkool Bloemhof in Stellenbosch, currently ranked 14th in the country. So well we may miss Illse on the field, we are grateful that she will be helping breed the next crop of youngsters in Stellenbosch! Marissa Langeni, the CEO of South African Hockey Association, shared her thoughts on Illse’s career: “Illse Davids will certainly be missed. She has been a central part of the national women’s team over the last few years and has inspired many a young girl from all walks of life to achieve greatness. Illse’s passion for the game and South African Hockey has always shone through. On behalf of the Executive Board of SA Hockey as well as the greater hockey family, I would like to thank Illse for her contribution to the national team. We wish her all of the best for the future and look forward to seeing her involved further in the sport that she loves.”
I asked Illse to share a message for the young women of South Africa that hope to one day emulate her. “Never give up on your dreams, I always believed that I would wear the green and gold. Whatever setbacks occurred on my journey, I learned from them and kept going until I achieved what I set out to accomplish!”
SA Hockey would like to thank Illse for the years of service and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.