Hard work for hockey development produces positive results
Odendaal's programme unearths five new stars for Northern Blues
Hockey is still an unfamiliar sport to many children and their schools around SA for historic reasons and lack of planning by authorities for facilities to be made available in certain communities.
This has therefore contributed to the slow pace of the growth of hockey, meaning legislated requirements for development and transformation at the grassroots level are virtually absent.
The lack of energy for development has seen hockey remaining the sport of the elites. Fortunately, the director at the Hockey Company Tshwane, Cobie Odendaal, has stepped forward and set up a development leg in the company called Boithabiso Sport.
In January, she wrote to principals in schools around inner-city Pretoria asking to help introduce hockey to their respective schools.
Only the principal of Sunnyside Primary School, Petunia Mogashoa, responded. The Boithabiso collective would get to work, turning the physical training (PT) classes into hockey clinics for 480 grade 6 and 7 learners over the next three months.
Fast forward to this week, five boys from Sunnyside Primary – Freddy Mahlangu, Calvin Matsemela, Samukelo Gule, Promise Rachoene and Mosa Nhlapo were capped and chosen to represent Northern Blues Primary Hockey in the July provincial tournaments festivals.
The capping of the boys at Garsfontein Primary School on Wednesday ranks up in Odendaal's life highlight reel.
"It's one of the best moments in my life, seeing them walk up there knowing they deserve to be there and worked very hard and are deserving to be playing. It was one of the highlights of my life," said Odendaal.
"It's extremely important we embrace everybody to the sport. Development is about getting to the children that can grow their potential. It's important as a community we stand together.
"I believe sport does give the opportunity in life to get to a better stance. Sports is a way to get to academic institutions, sports is not necessarily the way to earn but it opens doors," she said.
Mogashoa, the principal of Sunnyside Primary, wants more to be done in schools to promote other sports.
"It's about time we promote all sorts of sports to our children," she said.
"Tshwane South is trying, they have introduced sports like tennis, indoor games, table tennis and gymnastics. The mindsets need to change, opening up to unusual sports is a need. We are the immediate implementers of the exposure we want our children to gain," she said.
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