Four days of indoor hockey action in Kwazulu Natal delivered on all its objectives in front of fantastic crowds in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The series offered the first taste of International Indoor Hockey for Botswana, a renewal of the rivalry between South Africa and Zimbabwe and a hint of the future with the Emerging South African side.
For SPAR South Africa it was another a case of picking up where they left off from the successful European Tour in January, where they defeated Switzerland and drew with Czech Republic, in a dominant seven wins from seven. Particularly impressive for the hosts was the form of the trio of Cindy Hack, Tegan Fourie and Kara Botes. Although the South Africans consistently kept their opponents at arm’s length, it was the way they controlled the games that would be pleasing to Lennie Botha and his management team.
Zimbabwe were looking to secure their first indoor hockey test victory on the tour to South Africa and they got that in the two wins against Botswana. Having run South Africa close in Harare in August, they would have liked to build on that. Their most impressive performance was in the 6-3 defeat where they pulled it back to 2-2, but ultimately it was a case of missed opportunities to reflect on. They will however have a superb memory from the tour when Natalie Terblanche and Simone Herbst inspired a fight back against Emerging South Africa to overturn a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 victory. It was a sensational match that showed everything that is right with indoor hockey.
The Botswana ladies will look back on their four test matches with some great memories and massive learnings created. The opportunity to learn from Lennie Botha, Chris Fourie and other coaches will be exceptionally valuable in their development and the taste of international indoor hockey will leave them feeling like they have just had the starters at the buffet. There is a lot of work ahead for them but with the right determination they will become a highly competitive side.
For Emerging South Africa, it was the first opportunity to play against International opposition for so many of the players. Nepo Serage in goals was voted the goalkeeper of the tournament while Jessica Lardant continues to show she will have a long career of international indoor hockey, while Amaaraah Hendricks appears to have something special in the way she plays. AJ Spieringshoek will be better off for the opportunity of leading the emerging side as well. The 4-3 defeat to Zimbabwe would have disappointed them, but the 4-2 win in the first game was a definite highlight.
SPAR Indoor Series – TEST Match Results
SPAR South Africa 7-0 Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe 17-0 Botswana
SPAR South Africa 14-1 Zimbabwe
SPAR South Africa 20-0 Botswana
SPAR South Africa 6-3 Zimbabwe
SPAR South Africa 19-0 Botswana
SPAR South Africa 7-1 Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe 20-0 Botswana
SPAR South Africa 6-0 Zimbabwe
Photos – Chris Murphy Photography
Article Written by Tyron Barnard (sport24seven.co.za)