South Africa women start gearing up for Olympics
14 Feb 2008 14:09
There are less than six months before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, and the South African women's hockey team's preparations are well under way.
As part of their preparations for the Olympics, they are playing a three-Test series against Canada in Pretoria next week, ahead of a three-nations SPAR CUP tournament in Johannesburg at the end of the month.
The three matches against Canada will be played on Thursday the 21 February 16:00, Friday 22 February 16:00 and Sunday 24 February 10:30. The matches will take place at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Captain Marsha Marescia was excited about the prospect of the series against Canada. "Playing the Canadians before the three-nations at the end of the month will be very good preparation for us as a team. We are well into our preparations for the Olympic Games, and the more competition we have, the better," she said.
"It will also be interesting to see how the Canadians have progressed over the last year. They have always been a physically strong and immensely fit team and I'm sure this series they'll be no different. So we are definitely looking much forward to the Canadian series."
While South Africa have qualified for the Olympics, Canada still have to qualify, and they will be using the series as part of their preparations.
"South Africa has been an invaluable opponent for the Canadian team over the last three years," said Canadian captain Sarah Hughes. "As an Olympic Team the South Africans provide the Canadian team with a strong level of opposition both physically and tactically. We have played South Africa every year since 2005 and so the South African team provide us with a gauge of our overall progress and level of improvement on the international stage.
"The opportunity to compete in South Africa and gain some warm weather training during the Canadian winter is also advantageous particularly at present when the Canadian team is preparing for the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament which Canada is hosting in Victoria, BC at the end of April."
South Africa are currently ranked 12th in the world, while Canada are ranked 23rd. The South African selectors have chosen a 21-member squad to attend a training camp at the High Performance Centre at Pretoria University next week, ahead of the series against Canada. The final squad will be chosen at the end of the training camp.
Fiona Butler and Shelly Russell will both miss the Canadian series because of injury, while Jenny Wilson will be rested.
Squads: Spar South Africa -- Marietta Rid (Western Province), Santana Mandisa (Northerns), Hanli Hattingh(Western Province), Cindy Brown(Western Province), Taryn Hosking(Western Province), Vidette Ryan(Western Province), Lenise Marais(Western Province), Lisa Deetlefs(Southern Gauteng), Kim Hubach(Northerns), Pippa Rabey(Western Province), Marsha Marescia(Southern Gauteng – captain ), Lesley-Ann George (North West), Tarryn Bright(Western Province), Kate Hector(Western Province), Marcelle Keet(KwaZulu/Natal), Henna Du Buisson (Western Province), Kathleen Taylor(Western Province), Vida Ryan(Western Province), Farrah Fredericks(Western Province), Roxy Turner(Southern Gauteng), Dirkie Chamberlain(Northerns)
Canada - Sarah Forbes (capt), Azelia Liu, Andrea Rushton, Katie Rushton, Christine DePape, Megan Anderson, Clare Linton, Hilary Linton, Stephanie Jameson, Diana Roemer, Carly Dickson, Kim Buker, Katie Baker, Philippa Kedgley, Stephanie Hume, Marian Dickinson, Cailie O'Hara, Kate Gillis, Tiffany Michaluk.
Source: BLD / South African Hockey Federation