Grey hockey on the rise

Luke Lourens in action for the Grey College 1st team during their recent 3-1 win over Affies in Bloemfontein. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

Rugby has long been regarded as the flagship sport at Grey College and while the 1st XV has not lost a match since 2017, the other sporting codes are starting to stamp their authority as well.

Earlier in the year Grey’s water polo impressed, their cricket nearly qualified for the National Schools T20 finals, their football is always a force to be reckoned with, however, their hockey has now also shown drastic improvement since Anthony Woodhouse has taken over the reins of the 1st team.

As it stands, Grey has played in 23 official matches this season, of which they won 18, drew four times and their only defeat was against Hilton College.

Woodhouse came in to replace Wayne Coetzee who took up an opportunity at Hoërskool Menlopark in Pretoria. Coetzee was known for his strict discipline and fitness regime, and this is something that he opted not to change. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Woodhouse brought in a certain level of finesse, especially to the technical and tactical elements of Grey’s play.

So who is Woodhouse? He attended King Edward VII School before obtaining a degree in Sport Psychology. As a schoolboy he played in 29 provincial tournaments, of which 12 were for the senior men. From 2002 to 2018 he played in the Premier League and also spent a season with Royal Oree TBH in the Belgian Professional League.

Woodhouse was the director of hockey at Crawford College Lonehill for five years, and in that time he also coached at UJ, as well as the South Gauteng U16 team, and was an assistant to the U18 team. He was also the assistant coach at the Premier Hockey League team, the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants.

Woodhouse told Bloemfontein Courant that the players should be credited for their success this season.

“There are a number of factors that have contributed to the team’s success so far. We have a hugely talented pool of players. The guys in the 1st team are being pushed to improve by their teammates and very strong 2nd team players who are putting in strong performances weekly.

“The team also has a fantastic work ethic and players give their best during both conditioning sessions and technical sessions.

“Lastly, the spirit shown by the boys in tough situations has been fantastic to see. Be it 0-0 with little time left or a goal down, the guys have found a way to produce a result.”

There are high expectations of the Southern Free State team which will be playing in the A Division of the IPT (Interprovincial Tournament) for the first time in seven years. Eleven players have been included in the squad and they are Wynand Bloem, Kyle Cronjé, Gerard Erasmus, Ivan Gazela, Heinko Hansen, Luke Lourens, Sikha Nkosi, Willie Pretorius, Hann-ru van Wyk, Erwin van Deventer and Chris Viviers. The Horn twins, Marcus and Ruan, did not partake in the trials and this was due to their age.

Woodhouse added that the goal during this IPT will be to ensure their future in the A Section for next season, while keeping the team sharp for the third term. “Yes, I am very happy with the number of players gaining provincial exposure throughout the school. It shows that our coaching setup is producing high-quality players and credit to all our coaches. The SFS U18A team is out of the B section and will be looking to cement their place in the A section of IPT this year. I am excited to be assisting coach Braam Van Wyk, who is an exceptional tactician and mentor for the team.

“We will still be continuing with a lighter session load at school during the exam period and players will be given feedback and an outline of areas where they can improve. I hope that we, as a school, hit the ground running in the third term.”

The 2019 IPT will be played from 15 to 21 June in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. – MORGAN PIEK