Midlands Stallions and Highland Scorpions on collision course
in Cape Town
It was predicted by the faithful, but newcomers to the tournament had to see it to believe it … and so it proved.
The hockey on display in Wednesday’s opening round of the 7th Nolands Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals U16 and U18 sections was of a remarkable standard and built on the performances of the U13s and U14s on days one to three.
After such an action-packed day on the courts at the Good Hope Centre (GHC), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Bishops and the University of Cape Town (UCT) it was always going to be difficult to single out one great effort from the next, but a rampaging start at the GHC from PSI debutants Midlands Stallions in the Boys’ U16B section is definitely worth a mention and there was no hiding the quiet smile of franchise owner and coach Brandon Swart.
It was a stellar performance from the young Stallions as Nolands PSI Day 5 took it to another level.
After a shaky start, the Stallions ran over the Cape Sunbirds 9-3, pummelled the Pretoria Pitbulls 5-1 and stampeded over the East London Jaguars 13-1 on a memorable day for the Maritzburg lads. Assistant coach Paul Gonlag on the Stallions’ bench handled the rolling substitutions with practised care and the boys from the KZN capital are in fine fettle for another big day on Thursday.
However, the Stallions are not alone in the quest for promotion from the U16B section. Coach Jacques Grobler’s Highland Scorpions from the Boland are stinging opponents left, right and centre.
The deadly Scorpions poisoned the West Coast Stingrays 4-1 in their tournament opener, did for the Johannesburg Gryphons C combination 11-0 and repeated the medicine against the Cape Sunbirds to the tune of 9-3.
Scorpions coach Jacques Grobler dismissed the Stallions’ challenge as a concern. “I have already identified a number of weaknesses in their side and the Scorpions will punish them when the time comes.”
The U16B section is a round-robin affair (no-semi-finals), so both the Stallions and Scorpions could well reach the final after the r-r phase is complete. But, the psychological advantage could well be won on Friday, the day before the final that will determine who gets promoted to the 2014 Nolands PSI Nationals U16A Boys’ section.
Clearly there is a considerable degree of heat between these two ambitious teams, but the Scorpions can rest assured the analytical coaching talent that is Stallions mentor Brandon Swart will have done his homework too.
UCT Court Two is the place to be when the Scorpions and Stallions go head to head in the final before the final.
Meanwhile, a truly jaw-dropping spectacle was the U16A section boys’ encounter at UCT between the super-slick Durban Panthers and canny coach Jason Voight’s amazing East Rand Quaggas combination at CPUT, who outlasted the East Coast lads 7-6 in the final analysis.
Minimum individual frill, maximum ball speed and off-the-ball movement. The result? A stunning spectacle of junior indoor hockey at its best, where the teams traded goal for goal akin to boxers going toe-to-toe: al la Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the Thrilla in Manilla slugfest way back in the seventies.
Mike Wiggett, the Panthers coach, must also take a bow for putting together such a potent combination who understand the priceless value of the team performance being bigger than the individual’s.
The Girls’ U16A Section had some very close results, like the nine-goal thriller won by the PE Vipers A team against Peninsula Sharks; Girls’ U18A was cut-and-thrust stuff with close, relatively low-scoring outcomes; Boys U18 and Girls’ U18B had some lopsided results interspersed with the tightest of contests a la the nine-goal extravaganza won by the Johannesburg Gryphons A side against West Coast Barracudas in Pool 2.
Check out this clip from the 7th Nolands PSI Nationals Senior Opening Day at Ratanga Junction Tuesday with guest of honour and staunch hockey fan Robin Petersen, the Proteas cricket star.
The sheer numbers at PSI Nationals 2013 are bewildering and an organiser’s nightmare, yet somehow tireless PSI Event Manager Andy Stofberg and his army of worker bees get things done. “Only” 142 teams, nearly 1 400 players and an incredible 626 matches in eight days.
For the record (once again), the teams taking part include new franchises the Pretoria Pitbulls, Bloem Bears (Bloemfontein), Midlands Stallions from KZN and the Southern Cape Sables, as well as regulars the Boland Foxes, Highland Scorpions (Boland), Cape Town Seals, Peninsula Sharks, Cape Sunbirds, Durban Panthers, Durban Tigers, East London Jaguars, East Rand Quaggas, Namibia Hawks, Namibia Eagles, PE Vipers (Port Elizabeth), Johannesburg Gryphons, West Coast Barracudas and the West Coast Stingrays.
The PSI Nationals U13 and U14 boys’ and girls’ competitions, which took place from last Saturday to Tuesday, had 77 teams and more than 750 participants playing 336 games of indoor hockey in four days, while the PSI Nationals U16 and U18 boys’ and girls’ competitions, which includes 65 teams and more than 630 participants playing 290 indoor matches, saw the on-court action explode on Wednesday – with the gold medal finals day on Saturday morning.
There is also a Men’s and Women’s Princess PSI Senior Tournament event running in the evenings at Good Hope Centre with the finals being played on Saturday, December 14 at 10am as curtain-raisers to the marquee age-group gold medal showdowns. The U18 boys’ and girls’ championship finals are played directly after, at 10.45am, with the final prize-giving at 11.45am at the GHC.
Everything you require regarding the 7th Nolands Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals – from results to logs to fixtures and much, much more – can be found at www.psihockey.co.za and with videos and images part of the picture, it’s well worth a look.
Photos by ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Midlands Stallions in control against East London Jaguars at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town Wednesday on Day 5 of the 7th Nolands PSI Nationals.
Photos by ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Midlands Stallions on the attack against East London Jaguars at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town Wednesday on Day 5 of the 7th Nolands PSI Nationals.
PSI Nationals Day 4 brings silver and gold
in Cape Town
Wow! Finals day Part One had it all in Cape Town Tuesday as the 7th Nolands Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals reached its peak at the Good Hope Centre in the U13 and U14 sections.
With the A section finals for boys and girls taking place simultaneously at adjacent courts on the fast-paced GHC surface, it was whiplash time trying to keep track of what was in front, and behind, you as the action flew from end to end.
Commentators John McInroy and Rob le Brun did a great job in keeping the big crowd informed and entertained as the flurry of activity reached bewildering levels.
Here’s just a humble taster of what it felt like at the GHC finals in the flesh:
And it all comes down to this – Gold medal-aspirant teams gave their all in the U13A boys’ final: The West Coast Barracudas boys went 1-0 up in the opening sequences of their pulsating pummel with the PE (Port Elizabeth) Vipers.
In the fifth minute the Vipers boys equalised via a slick penalty corner – and slotted another seconds later with a scorching variation. The Vipers were spitting venom and a classic action goal followed soon after for 3-1.
It was nearly 4-1 in the 14th from yet another power Vipers PC but a brave Barracuda saved on the goalline with the ice-cold efficiency of the Atlantic Ocean in nearby Table Bay to momentarily stem the PE venom.
It was not to last, as yet another top-class action goal did make it 4-1 to the Vipers. Sadly for the PE faithful, who came in their numbers from one windy city to another in support of their beloved Vipers, that goal was the beginning of the end.
The masterful Mustapha Cassiem and his fellow Barracudas from the West Coast decided enough was enough … and the quality Cassiem was arguably the catalyst in the Cudas’ coming back from the dead to run out 9-8 winners to the delight of their fans in this classic clash that showcased junior indoor at its best.
Indeed, the nerve-jangling closeness of the U13 and U14 finals will be the abiding memory of PSI Nationals Part One in 2013 and only served to whet the appetite for the smorgasbord of spills, thrills and skills set to be served up when the U16 and U18 boys and girls swing into action Wednesday till Saturday’s showdowns for the gold, silver and bronze medals (the “dirty gold” so highly sought after by the competing teams who miss out on tackling each other for the more precious metals).
The three other A section finals were a triumph for the Boland Foxes.
U13A Girls’ final: Boland Foxes win 8-second showdown after deadlock at full-time.
U14A Boys’ final: Boland Foxes 3 Durban Panthers 2
U14A Girls’ final: Boland Foxes 4 Johannesburg Gryphons 4 (Foxes win 8-second showdown).
For today’s B section final results and all the bronze medal winners, as well days one, two and three results, plus all the team lists, logs, fixtures, photos, videos and more, go to the official PSI website at http://www.psihockey.co.za/nationals-2013/ for all the info.
Check out this insert that previews the 7th Nolands PSI Nationals. It appeared on the hugely popular Expresso breakfast show on SABC3 this morning and was shot at a Gryphons training session in Fourways, Johannesburg last week! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6kkiIK-nbo
Check out the day three PSI Nationals video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cVGwQKTpEQ
And here are the PSI “Best of the Best” Awards
U14 Girls’ A section
Best Goalkeeper – Brittany du Plessis (East Rand Quaggas)
Best Spirit – Durban Panthers
Best Player- Monique Bartsch (Boland Foxes)
U14 Girls’ B section
Best GK – Tess Lawrence (PE Vipers)
Best Spirit – Annemieke Thomadis (East Rand Quaggas)
Best Player – Kirsty Adams (Boland Scorpions)
U14 Boys’ A section
Best GK – William Everleigh (Boland Scorpions)
Best Spirit – Steven McGillivray (PE Vipers)
Best Player – Antonie Small-Smith (Boland Foxes)
U14 Boys’ B section
Best GK – Kevin Brand (West Coast Barracudas)
Best Spirit- Keon Leong Colon (Johannesburg Gryphons)
Best Player- Jacques van Tonder (Bloem Bears)
U13 Girls’ A section
Best GK – Mishka Ellis (Boland Foxes)
Best Player – Kiana Cormack (Namibia Hawks)
Best Spirit – Amber Dercksen (Namibia Eagles A)
U13 Girls’ B section
Best GK – Sonja Veldsman (Boland Scorpions)
Best Spirit – Sophie Butler (Boland Scorpions)
Player – Nicci Claasen (Southern Cape Sables)
U13 Boys’ A section
Best GK- Taine Bird (Durban Panthers)
Best Spirit- Namibia Hawks
Best Player – Luke Wynford (PE Vipers)
U13 Boys’ B section
Best GK – Jadin Jordaan (East Rand Quaggas B)
Best Spirit- Tim Kotze (Cape Sunbirds)
Best Player – Scott Mostert (Southern Cape Sables)
Photo: ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Mustapha Cassiem of the West Coast Barracudas takes on the PE Vipers’ defenders during the Cudas’ 9-8 victory in the U13A final of the 7th Nolands Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town Tuesday.
Loser also winners on gripping day three at PSI Nationals
in Cape Town
Durban Panthers might have been edged 4-3 in a heart-stopping U13A semi-final at the 7th Nolands Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals in the Good Hope Centre, Cape Town Monday but the true hero of this enthralling encounter was Panthers goalkeeper Taine Bird.
Living up to Investec South Africa women’s hockey team head coach Giles Bonnet’s dictum that the true value of a goalkeeper is the stopper’s ability to keep his or her team in the game when things are not going so well, Bird made a series of stunning saves that ensured his hungry Panthers stayed in the hunt.
Indeed the U13A section saw remarkable competition. And what a group of teams! There was just a four-point difference between position 1 and position 6.
1st on 30 points – West Coast Barracudas.
2nd on 29 points – Port Elizabeth Vipers
3rd on 28 points – Cape Town Seals
4th on 27 points – Durban Panthers
tied 5th position on 26 points – Namibia Hawks and Boland Foxes.
There were a host of other gripping playoffs that had the enthralled fans on the edge of their seats at the GHC, as well as Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), University of Cape Town (UCT), Bishops and Somerset College.
The U14A Boys’ semi-finals at UCT were incredible. The Panthers and Cape Town Seals U14s were 1-1 at full-time and 3-3 in the 8-second showdowns before the Panthers won in sudden-death. The Battle of the Boland was also a blinder. The Foxes and Scorpions were 4-4 at full-time, 1-1 in the 8-second shootout, before the Foxes won sudden-death.
You can catch all the results and logs, as well as tomorrow’s finals programme for the coveted gold medals at www.psihockey.co.za which also has superb videos and images.
But let’s get back to Bird:
“I am proud of the way I played,” said Taine Bird of the Panthers’ gut-wrenching 4-3 defeat, where the Barracudas got the better of the Panthers defence in the last move of the match, a penalty corner. “But I could have done better in putting pressure on their PCs,” the perfectionist that is Bird added with a rueful smile.
Bird (13) has just completed Grade 7 at Northwood Primary and is heading to the senior school in 2014. The promising keeper is clearly drawn to the gloves, as he also plays goalkeeper in soccer and keeps wicket on the cricket pitch.
“I love being the last line of defence,” said Bird with an enthusiastic smile as he looked forward to the Panthers’ playoff for third place against the Cape Town Seals Tuesday.
“This is my first PSI and I’m going to come back every year, I absolutely love it” said the Northwood stopper. “PSI Indoor is awesome, it’s the first time I have ever played indoor hockey and what I love is the fast pace, so quick, and where the goalkeeper is always involved in the action.”
PSI founder and tournament director Simon Martin was impressed with Bird no end. “Taine was fantastic, he’s extremely agile, he wasn’t shy, he commanded his defence well, and the key factor was that he didn’t commit himself too early, stayed balanced on his feet and judged the right time to go to the floor.”
Now retired, Martin (33) knows what he is talking about; having made his debut for South Africa in the keeper’s jersey aged just 19 and earning hero status in the hockey fraternity by saving three of five attempts in a penalty-stroke shootout to help win the Africa Cup for SA against Egypt not too long ago.
What makes a great goalkeeper? “The most important thing is the ability to read the game,” said Martin, who was also a wicketkeeper and soccer keeper in his youth. Martin added that what drove him as a keeper was the difference he could make to his team’s chances of winning a game.
Meanwhile, the Panthers’ brains trust, Mike Wiggett and Greg White, were full of praise for the PSI concept.
“The points system rewards positive play, encourages an attacking mindset, as sides keep searching for the bonus point for scoring five goals or more,” said Wiggett.
White heartily agreed: “A great example today was a team substituting their goalkeeper for a field player as they searched for that fifth goal.”
The former Nuffield cricketer and SA Schools’ B hockey player also praised the young players’ better appreciation of the structure and pattern their coaches were asking them to play than what he saw at the 2012 PSI Nationals.
“These boys and girls are very young, yet the way they are handling the pressure-cooker atmosphere in the big games in front of passionate crowds, where the noise can be a distraction, is also impressive this year.”
Wiggett then concurred with White’s description of the growth of PSI since its inception in 2007 as being akin to a little dorp transforming into a city.
“Five years ago, my first PSI, it was way smaller in terms of numbers [1 400 this year – the U16s and U18s start Wednesday] but what has remained – and you could see it in our semi-final today, is the way the players from opposing sides at PSI get on so well with each other once the final whistle has gone, no matter how intense and competitive the game was.
“The coaches and players are such good friends – that’s what makes PSI so special and keeps people coming back every year,” Wiggett added.
Photo: ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Durban Panthers U13A goalkeeper Taine Bird in the perfect position against West Coast Barracudas in the teams’ semi-final clash at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town Monday.
Photo: ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Durban Panthers U13A goalkeeper Taine Bird impressed former SA keeper and Nolands PSI Nationals tournament director Simon Martin no end, despite ending on the losing side against West Coast Barracudas in a gripping semi-final Monday.
Monique and Kosie just two of the talents at PSI Nationals
at Good Hope Centre, Cape Town
There is some serious talent at the 7th Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals U13 and U14 boys’ and girls’ competitions that are currently well into their second day of action here in the Mother City and just two of those players who have stood out are Monique Bartsch of the all-conquering Boland Foxes in the Girls’ U14A Division and Kosie Kritzinger of outstanding PSI newcomers the Bloemfontein Bears in the Boys’ U14B Division.
The quality of their game at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town on Sunday morning moved livewire PSI Entertainment Manager and former South Africa player John McInroy to name them the unofficial players of their respective matches after both Monique and Kosie had put in sterling performances for their teams in victories over the East Rand Quaggas girls and boys.
“It wasn’t just about their individual ability, it was as much about the way they enabled their team-mates to play a better game – both Monique and Kosie epitomised that quality,” said McInroy, the three-time SA senior interprovincial tournament winner in an all-conquering Western Province side.
PSI venue manager at the Good Hope Centre, Rob le Brun, agreed heartily with McInroy.
Monique (14) is in Grade 8 at Rhenish in Stellenbosch, the alma mater of 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympian Kathleen Taylor and had at the time of writing captained the Boland Foxes to six wins from six starts in the eight-team Girls’ U14A Division.
Monique is now playing in her fifth PSI Nationals, and simply loves the whole PSI experience.
“The non-stop speed of the game, the opportunity to meet new people, the whole vibe is what makes PSI so special,” this remarkable young talent said.
Kosie is wide-eyed and loving it. The Bloemfontein Bears are a brand new franchise and the 14-year-old Grey College Grade Eight boy reflected on his first PSI Nationals after netting a memorable hat-trick against East Rand Quaggas in the Boys’ U14B Division.
“Fast and interactive, PSI is incredibly well organised, it’s non-stop action,” said Kosie, whose side are dead-set on winning promotion to the Boys’ U14A Division in their first year.
With a 100% win record at the time of writing, the Bears are well on their way to realising that dream.
Current senior SA men’s outdoor selector, double Olympian and former national captain Bruce Jacobs is a PSI franchise owner and he knows a thing or two about quality. While there are no tournament teams selected at PSI Nationals, the players – both boys and girls – can be sure that knowledgeable, influential personalities in South African hockey circles are watching their progress with interest.
The Foxes have been a hugely dominant force on days one and two, scoring 48 goals with just eight against to enjoy a runaway lead on the Girls’ U14A Division log table. (Go to http://www.psihockey.co.za/nationals/nationals-2012/fixtures-results/ and you are in the money with all the competitions).
Indeed, www.psihockey.co.za has the 2013 videos and photos as well as logs, results, fixtures and a whole lot more. And it’s going to carry on, as the boys’ and girls’ U16 and U18 events kick off Tuesday for Wednesday and go right through to Saturday’s finals.
The Boland Foxes U14 girls’ team have amassed an amazing 30 log points from six outings (four points for a win and a bonus point for five goals or more in a match) and are overwhelming favourites to win the title.
They will likely play the Johannesburg Gryphons, who they beat 5-2 on Sunday morning, in Tuesday’s 10.50 am U14A Division gold medal match at the Good Hope Centre, but first up is Monday’s final round-robin match before their 12.45 pm semi-final, which will probably be against one of the Port Elizabeth Vipers or the Cape Town Seals.
Photo: ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Having fun (from left), Rob le Brun, Monique Bartsch, Bruce Jacobs and Kosie Kritzinger on the stage at PSI Nationals in the Good Hope Centre, Cape Town Sunday.
Goals galore on Pro Series Indoor day one
in Cape Town
DAY one of the 7th Nolands Pro Series Indoor (PSI) Nationals is cooking at five venues in Cape Town Saturday with goals coming thick and fast at the Good Hope Centre (GHC), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), University of Cape Town (UCT), Bishops and Somerset College.
The sheer numbers are startling. No less than 142 teams, nearly 1 400 players and an incredible 626 matches in eight days.
The teams taking part include new franchises the Pretoria Pitbulls, Bloemfontein Bears, Midlands Stallions and the Southern Cape Sables, as well as regulars the Boland Foxes, Boland Scorpions, Cape Town Seals, Cape Town Sharks, Cape Town Sunbirds, the Durban Panthers, Durban Tigers, East London Jaguars, East Rand Quaggas, Namibia Hawks, Namibia Eagles, Port Elizabeth Vipers, Johannesburg Gryphons, West Coast Barracudas and the West Coast Stingrays.
The PSI Nationals U13 and U14 boys’ and girls’ competitions, which includes 77 teams and more than 750 participants playing 336 games of indoor hockey in four days, finishes on Tuesday, while the PSI Nationals U16 and U18 boys’ and girls’ competitions, which includes 65 teams and more than 630 participants playing 290 indoor hockey matches, sees the on-court action explode on Wednesday – with the finals day on Saturday, December 14.
There is also a Men’s and Women’s Nolands PSI event running in the evenings at Good Hope Centre with the finals being played on Saturday, December 14 at 10am. The U18 boys’ and girls’ championship finals are played directly after, at 10.45am, with the final prize-giving at 11.45am at the GHC.
The daily programme (including fixtures) for Event One, the U13 and U14 boys’ and girls’ divisions, can be found at www.psihockey.co.za with results on display by 9 pm every night.
The daily programme (including fixtures) for Event Two, the U16 and U18 boys’ and girls’ competitions, which get under way on Wednesday, will be available on www.psihockey.co.za by Tuesday.
Individual awards evenings for the various age groups in the respective events will take place at the Nelson Mandela Boulevard Garden Court on Monday and Friday, with awards from the various medals matches on Tuesday and Saturday at Good Hope Centre.
Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3CXZ353JkM&feature=youtu.be for the U13 and U14 fun and games and Opening Ceremony at Ratanga Junction on Friday, December 6.
A special moment saw all the PSI participants link hands to sing the South African national anthem in honour of the late, great and most revered Madiba, Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela.
You can continue to follow and keep in touch with us and all news related to PSi and people part of PSi via twitter: @PSIhockey