Former South African hockey coach Fabian Gregory died aged 47 in Hong Kong on Saturday and his untimely passing has left a huge void within Border and worldwide hockey circles.
At a young age at Buffalo Flats Primary School in East London, it was soon apparent that Gregory’s future life would be forever connected to sport. As a young boy he excelled at hockey, athletics, cricket and soccer and his talent for playing sports continued at Greenpoint Senior Secondary School where he matriculated.
He then studied at the Hewitt Teacher’s College in Cape Town, before returning to teach at Greenpoint.
He played for the Di Roma junior hockey team and moved into the senior ranks and later played for Aces Club under the excellent guidance of top coach and mentor Roger Matroos.
Though he represented Border at various age levels in hockey as well as cricket, his true love was hockey and he quickly developed into a capable coach at interprovincial level.
He started at boys’ U16 level and thereafter coached the U18s and U21s. His experience as a coach was then recognised at national level and he was appointed assistant coach to the national women’s squad where he served for a number of years.
Later, in 2014, he took over as the coach of the SA men’s team. He took the SA team to the 2014 World Cup held at The Hague in the Netherlands where SA finished in 11th position.
Australia ran out as winners of the tournament, beating the home team in the final.
In the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow just a month later the same year, the squad did extremely well. In the finals SA outplayed Canada 7-3 to grab fifth position overall at the Games.
Though SA won the Africa Nations in Randburg against Egypt in 2015, a passport to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, SA hockey did not take part in the Olympics that year.
Gregory will forever be known as a coach who had a great knack of spotting talent among the youth of SA. He excelled at introducing and mentoring these young players in the men’s squad with a number of them going on to represent the country with great success.
Gregory was also a registered Level 3 cricket coach, had a great love of reading and he also began to play golf as a way to relax.
He had accepted an invitation to coach the Hong Kong men’s national team as well as a local club there, the Valley Club.
Born in August 1973, Gregory leaves his mother, Cathy, his girlfriend Carol and son Jamey.
By Peter Martin