UJ hockey a hit with future stars
Hockey is proving a hit as hundreds of future stars hone their skills on a weekly basis with the University of Johannesburg’s mini and junior clubs.
Now in its seventh season, the initiative provides the competitive advantage by offering specialised coaching for boys and girls aged six to 18 years.
UJ Sport’s hockey manager Elize le Roux said the club not only helped develop players’ fitness and technical skills, but also gave them the chance to have fun and form friendships outside their school environment.
“At the same time, it’s a useful platform for scouting talented youngsters and helping them build successful hockey careers. Hopefully they’ll choose to study further and go on to play for UJ’s senior sides one day.”
Le Roux cited Southern Gauteng’s U/21 players Greg Gandy, William van der Velde and Isabella da Rocha as a few successful graduates of the programme. Gandy has also represented the national U/18 side, while Da Rocha plays for the university’s first team.
She said the club was divided into a mini section, catering for the U/6 to U/13 age groups, and a junior division, which competes at U/14 to U/17 level.
“The minis play round-robin events against other clubs on Saturday mornings and there are league matches for juniors on Friday nights.”
With UJ’s U/13 boys’ team the reigning Champ of Champs tournament titleholders, she said the club was producing good results.
According to Le Roux, previous playing experience was not a prerequisite, especially for the little ones, but that most children who joined did play for their school.
She said attendance had virtually tripled since the club’s inception. “We now have approximately 140 mini and 130 junior players.”
The UJ mini teams practise from 5.30 to 7pm on Wednesday evenings at the university’s Orban Fields, while the juniors train from 6pm to 8pm on the UJ Astro.