The African Hockey Championships only really begins for the South African men’s side today as they try and seal their place in the finals with a fixture against Kenya at the Randburg Hockey Stadium.
It’s been a relatively simple route to the semifinals for coach Fabian Gregory’s side and they’ve managed to inflict heavy defeats on each of the teams they’ve faced so far without conceding a single goal.
“We’ve put in a lot of work in our preparations and we’re happy with the way we’ve been executing. But our focus shifts to the weekend and the semifinal,” Tim Drummond, tasked with captaining the side at this competition, said ahead of today’s game.
“That’s where we are going to measure ourselves against some of the top sides in this tournament and it’s going to require a big effort from every member of this squad,” he added.
This tournament serves as a qualifier for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year but there’s a cloud hanging over both of South Africa’s sides given that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee have deemed the route through Africa not tough enough to warrant automatic inclusion.
“It would be hugely unfortunate. There’s so much for this squad to offer. I think with hockey being one of the most player sports ins schools in our country it would be very unfortunate if we do qualify and don’t get in a position to go,” Drummond, who was part of the squad at the Games in London in 2012, said of the situation.
“London was amazing. Huge experience and opportunity and If we do get the opportunity o go to Rio well have some invaluable experience with a couple of guys from that side still with us.”
Drummond, who also turns out for a team in the Dutch Hoofdklasse – considered one of the toughest leagues in the world – has enjoyed the responsibility of leadership although eh admits it hasn’t been too tough to rally his troops.
“It’s been great fun and a huge privilege. But I’ve been fortunate that my area of responsibility has just been to flick the coin at the toss. This is a mature, motivated bunch of guys and I’m happy to be part of this.
“The guys are all playing for each other and it’s hugely important,” he said.