The South African national women’s ice hockey squad returned from England last week, following the completion of the Division III 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship.
“I think it all comes down to team-building, motivation from the bench…,” said South African ladies coach Adele Kohlmeyer. “We went there with nothing to lose.”
The team’s participated in the tournament without a win from their five matches, and have been relegated to Division IV for the 2008 championships.
“They (Division IV) include teams like Ireland, Romania and New Zealand, which are teams in the same situation as us, as regards finance, ice-time, training schedules etc.,” said Kohlmeyer.
“I believe that history’s run its course now, because it’s actually quite ironic that by default, we’ve always got into Division III, where we shouldn’t have been. Now that we’re in Division IV, which is where we should be, we actually have a medal-winning opportunity.
“The one positive I can mention,” said Kohlmeyer, “Is that we (team South Africa) had a special mention at the Director’s Meeting after the tournament, when they said they’d never seen a team like the South Africans, that walked off the bench smiling, even more than the winning team.”
South Africa were pitted against Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary and Korea in the tournament, which was narrowly won by the Australian team, earning promotion to next year’s second Division tournament.
“We knew that all we could do, was to do our best, and that’s literally what the girls gave me,” said Kohlmeyer. They gave me 150% in every game. I think, just the fact that they were smiling coming off the bench, shows that they had a good time, they did what they wanted to do, which was to play hockey.”
In their five matches, the SA squad lost to Australia (1-18), Korea (1-8), Belgium (1-10), Great Britain (0-27) and Hungary (1-14), and ended the championships with a total of four goals against 77 conceded.
“Bearing in mind that we lost our no. 1 goalkeeper, and our No. 2 goalkeeper Marina Alldred played an awesome tournament. In the one game (against Great Britain), she had a 147 shots on her, and they got in 27 goals.
“Bearing in mind that we only took 15 players, where Great Britain had 24 players, just really out-skated us, they had the legs to be replaced on the bench.”
South Africa’s four goals were scored by Rosamarie Cronje, Kirstin Oxenham, Jadi-Leigh Wessels and Donne Oxenham, who each added one to the total.
Hosts Great Britain finished second on the division log following their extra-time loss to Australia, despite having scored 16 more goals, and conceding one less.
South Africa lost to its closest competitor Korea by a 7 goal difference in their second championship match, and didn’t manage to score more than one goal against any competitor.
“Against Hungary and Belgium, they deserved to be in division 3, so we literally didn’t have high hopes against them.
“I think Korea were the team to beat, but we didn’t have a good start,” continued Kohlmeyer, “Although the girls picked it up later. The first 10 minutes is where we lost the Korean game.
Depending on South Africa’s Ice Hockey Association’s coaching staff requirements, the ladies will start to train soon again, leading up to the year-ending inter-provincial tournament, from October to December.