Over the five years that I have been writing for Pro Series Indoor I have seen some superb stories come to life. I have seen dreams become reality and I have witnessed the impossible become the probable on more than one occasion. With that in mind I now watch the PSi matches, both the Nationals and the Exhibition matches, with a belief that anything is possible.
As a writer there is something beautiful about a fairy tale. The likelihood of the tale playing out in the way you hope for it or even dream for it to play out is small, but the possibility is what the romantics of sport come along for. The recently completed U18 Nationals proved exactly that offering a fairy-tale final game in PSi for Kiana Cormack and Aiden Tun.
Kiana Cormack has written many incredible stories in her hockey career of PSi over almost 10 years of action. She has given me some incredible stories to write over the past few years and this year was no different. Kiana was selected as captain to lead the Hawks in the U18 Nationals in her final tournament. It was an age group tournament that they had not won since her older sister Jerrica led the team to the title in 2008. There was optimism but the Hawks knew they would have it all to play for.
Having won their way through to final the Hawks took on the mighty impressive Gryphons coached by SA Men’s Indoor coach David Joshua. They trailed in the final 2-0 before a Kiana hat-trick brought it back level but the Gryphons equalised with two minutes remaining and it appeared the game was going to showdowns. But with the last play of the game the Hawks won a penalty corner and Kiana stood at the top of the D.
A captain at the Youth Olympics, the top goal scorer of the Indoor Hockey World Cup and her PSi career would come down to this. The ball was injected as time stood still, a massive crowd collectively held their breath, the ball was stopped perfectly, the moment was predestined as Kiana “Penalty Cormack” took a step forward. She picked up the ball in her stride and slid into a perfect drag flick. The ball sliced off her stick with venom and as it inched towards the goal, destiny was playing its part. The ball found the top corner like a prized snooker player and the crowd erupted. With her last strike of the ball Kiana had ended 11 years of waiting with the senior girls title.
Of course, just a few minutes later the boy’s final was presented. After the ecstasy of the girls final the stage was set for a showdown between some of the hottest prospects of SA Indoor Hockey. Aiden Tun and Marvin Simons both played their debuts for South Africa a month previously and after years of service would be bidding farewell as a player to the Gryphons. What a better way to go out than make it through to the final to play against the Mustapha Cassiem inspired Barracudas.
With so much attacking talent on the field the unthinkable was happening. Attack after attack was repelled by excellent defending, incredible talent and superb heart. With the minutes ticking away neither side could find the goal that would make them the 2019 Champions and the highly uncommon score of 0-0 remained in force until the final whistle. The title would be decided by showdowns.
With the scores level, Aiden Tun stood over the ball for his final moment of play in Pro Series Indoor National history. Standing at the top of the run the silence was deafening to the point that you could almost hear the heart beat of every single spectator at UCT. His first step and the pulses were racing, his second and they got even faster. Every breath was collectively held as he surged forward looking to fulfil his PSi Destiny. He moved one way, which was followed by the keeper, before turning in style and pushing the ball towards the goal. It may have felt like an eternity but as the ball struck the back of the board, Aiden Tun had won the title for the Gryphons with his final strike of his PSi school boy career.
The picture of Tun’s victorious leap will almost be as iconic as the moment in years to come as he was lifted above the shoulders of the giants of the Gryphons and took his moment in a way that would make whoever decides on destiny smile.
Pro Series Indoor is about indoor hockey, but so much more than that it’s a bout fairy tales and friendship. Its about scoring goals but so much more than that its about making friends and memories. Its about winning titles, but so much more than that is about building character and moulding the future.
I am honoured that I get to tell a fraction of the incredible stories.