Hockey duo defy odds to represent SA, Border players selected after playing in IPT B section

The Border hockey fraternity are celebrating the selection of local players Bianca Wood and Antonet Louw to the SA Women’s Hockey team.

This is Wood’s third year in the team and Louw’s second stint.

Their selection follows their outstanding performances at the Women’s Hockey IPT in August, where they were awarded Top Goal Scorer and Player of the Tournament respectively.

Adding to their achievement is that Border played in the B Section of the IPT.

Wood and Louw left for selection camp in Cape Town on September 14 and are part of a group of 24 players competing for spots in the team to represent SA at the African Hockey Road to Tokyo Qualifier In October, in Pretoria.

The camp includes 12 days of grueling training in preparation.

Africa is allocated a spot at the Paris Olympics but only one country from the continent can compete.

The onus is now on the SA team to secure a win at Afcon to ensure the side makes it to the Olympics.

Louw, who plays centre/left back, said their selection to the team as the only Eastern Cape representatives was a huge honour.

She said: “It was a surprise to us because we were competing in the B Section.

“We tried to stay self-motivated and in the end it paid off, because the selectors were able to see the unique strengths we have to offer to the national team.

“We just hope now that we can represent the country at the Olympics and can play against competitive and more established European teams so that our depth in the sport improves and we are able to translate that learning and knowledge into our development of players in Border.

“For Bianca and myself, our main aim is to give back to the sport and so everything we do is to help us make hockey in East London better and to show local players that it is possible to have a career in the sport,” Louw said.

The SA Women’s Hockey team has a busy year ahead with a series against Germany immediately after the African qualifier for the Olympics has concluded.

Louw said she was relishing the opportunity to play consistently against strong international teams.

She hoped that this year the SA women’s team would prove that the country can compete and not just participate on the global stage.

President of Border Hockey, Nick Flavio has commended the players on the impact their selection to the South African side has had on local hockey.

Flavio said: “Bianca and Antonet are great players. During IPT they lifted the team up and contributed towards creating a sense of synergy that was the catalyst for the outstanding performance that saw the Border women’s team earn promotion to the A-Section.

“Bianca and Antonet are fantastic people and what they have done for hockey exceeds what Siya Kolisi’s captaincy has done for the nation.

“They have energised Border hockey to such a degree that is it palpable in the players and the supporters.

“We couldn’t be prouder.”

Wood’s club hockey coach for Parkside Ladies, Jason van Zyl said: “It’s any coaches dream to have a player like Bianca Wood on your side especially when she is firing on all cylinders. To me she is my Messi. I know when she has the ball she will create a goal scoring opportunity. She can listen and take instructions and execute these successfully.

“It’s so easy for a player of her calibre to disregard club hockey yet she is at every training session and game looking to improve and hone her skills.”

LEAVING A LEGACY: Bianca Wood and Antonet Louw with their awards after playing in the Women’s Hockey IPT in August. Pictures: SUPPLIED


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