Wildcats are Gauteng Champions 2011

Wildcats are Gauteng Champions 2011

21 Oct 2011 | Gary Bock

Wildcats from Kempton Park, Johannesburg closed South African hockey season with provincial title

On the weekend of the 16th of October 2011 the South African hockey season came to an end. The last game of the season between Wildcats and Warriors was an important one as a draw or a loss would mean that Scorpions would win the league title.
Wildcats knew what had to be done and started the game with high energy, although they were missing a key player in the team George Lyon, who was out injured. The young 17year old Callum Bremner really stepped up his game this year with the senior team and finished the last two games of the season out of his normal position in forward.
The first goal went to Wildcats, but Warriors pulled one back within the next 2 minutes. Then Warriors pulled ahead 2-1 and this sparked the Wildcats into life. Burton Matthews, Andre Marais, Chris Engelbrecht and Jack Valadas showed why they are an integral part of the SA senior team and took the game out of reach of the Warriors with 2 goals in the second and 2 goals in the third to end the game 6-2 victors and League Champions.
The year passed has been a very good one for South African hockey as a whole and more especially in Johannesburg as the Premier Division has become a lot more competitive for the first time in a few years.
All three teams have had breakthroughs. Wildcats with Justin Harman,18 years old, Callum Bremner, 17 years old and Dylan Venter 16 years old all stepping up and making a name for themselves.
Wildcats suffered a huge loss in the early going of the season with number one goalkeeper, Gary Bock fracturing his knee cap and tearing his ACL and MCL, thus keeping him out of the last 10weeks of the season, but on a positive note, the young goaltender, Steven Ryan stepped up the plate remarkably and held his own with the big boys.
Warriors on the other hand were a very remarkable team and are going to be one to reckon with in a year or 2 time. Their roster had by the far the youngest average age of 20. They had a number of youngsters’ in their team and this is a huge plus for the U18 national team as Spencer Du Preez, Denzel Verwey, Andre Visser are all still eligible for the U18 team for another 2 years as they are currently only 16 and Xander Botha who has another year with the U18’s as he is only 17. If they can get the correct coaching and structure, Warriors will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.
Their team who was led by SA Senior players Cameron Birrell and Zayne Du Plessis along with SA ice hockey legend Alan Verwey held their own against predominantly stronger teams. With the last 2 games of the season Warriors lost Cameron Birrell as he is now playing ENL1 for Oxford Stars in the UK.
Scorpions had the best start to the season winning their first few games but as Wildcats grew as a team and brotherhood their team became too strong and won every game they played towards the end of the season.
They however also suffered a loss with their SA goalkeeper, David Berger deciding to quit and concentrate on his studies. This left the door open for their backup Farrel Foy, who had been playing 1st Division until then. The step up from 1st to Premier division is quite a jump as Premier division is made up mostly of current and past SA players from U18, U20 and Seniors. He however came into his own and seemed to thrive on the pressure. He is looking like the other teams may struggle next year to score past him.
With the development of the new players and the youngsters jumping up to Premier Division, the future of SA hockey looks bright and the continuous improvement of the league seems inevitable.

With the end of the season only means one thing. Preparations for the World Championships Div ii group B in Bulgaria next year April. The SA squad will be announced soon so keep your eyes peeled to see which of the players have made it. Riding on the success of this years team, the SA team is looking at winning at least 2 games next year by beating Israel and Mexico. That’s the short term goal, to stay in DivII. There are going to be some big changes in the coming year and I will definitely be keeping you posted.
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