It’s been nearly six months since Sanani Mangisa took over as the number one goalkeeper for the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team, and her biggest goal for 2013 is to cement her place in the national side.
Mangisa, who took over from Mariette Rix as the number one goalkeeper in September last year, couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2013.
“Rixie and I played together in the team for six years. We learnt a tremendous amount from each other. She was always willing to share her knowledge and experience. And her work-rate was admirable.”
The 25-year-old has put together a string of stand-out performances that caught the attention of national assistant coach Fabian Gregory, who lauded her publicly, saying that Mangisa had been a powerful influence on the field: “Sanani has kept us in each game with some great saves, she’s been fantastic and gives our defenders confidence.”
Having completed her studies and worked for an IT company as a business analyst, it’s clear that Mangisa’s preferred focus is on her remarkable hockey journey, which spans 14 years.
“I only discovered hockey at 10 years old. So it’s not something I grew up around but I think my love for hockey is that it’s a team sport. I started playing hockey at 11 years old. I’m 25 now, so it’s been 14 years.”
Mangisa says there have been a handful of achievements but at the same time, that there is still so much more to be achieved. She points to the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
So, does she pinch herself when she thinks about how far she has come? “My family does that for me,” she jokes, adding more seriously, “In acknowledging my achievements, they also make sure I remain grounded.”
Mangisa is proud to be part of the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team. “It’s a great feeling. I get to play amongst a great bunch of girls who I consider to be like a second family to me.”
But, with the highlights, there are also challenges. “I have missed out on making teams when I thought I was playing well. But such disappointments only make one work harder. Like a reality check.”
For Mangisa, one of the special things about representing her country, is getting to sing the National Anthem. “I always think of the plane fly over, at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994. Awesome feeling!”
And with that comes the opportunity to turn out in national colours, alongside some of the most accomplished players.
On the legendary duo of Marsha Marescia and Pietie Coetzee, Mangisa jests: “I’m just happy that they are in my team, and not the opposition! On a serious note though, I get to play with two extremely talented players. Marsha and Pietie have a wealth of experience, and I learn from them everyday.”
Sponsors are the life-blood of women’s sport, and Mangisa expresses her gratitude for the support of top hockey brands, Gryphon and OBO. Investec’s sponsorship of the national team is often spoken about, and Mangisa herself has only good things to say about the association.
“We have a great relationship with Investec who are believers of what our team is trying to achieve. Their continuous support has been amazing and allows us to get a lot of international exposure/competition. We are extremely grateful to have a sponsor like that.”
So, is women’s sport viable?
“Yes. I actually think that the value is somewhat underrated. We have so many heroes in women’s sport that have success stories to tell, which so many sponsors can relate to.”
In terms of raising the profile of sport, Mangisa says: “Good performances equal good media exposure which equals more sponsors. But this is a ripple effect. To get good performances, some monetary backing must have been attained.
“As women in sport we need to keep achieving. You can’t ignore that.”
Mangisa, who says her phenomenal mother is her role model, is also a big fan of the Williams sisters. “What they have achieved in tennis is inspirational.”
Having experienced the highs and lows of top-level sport, Mangisa has some sage advice for aspiring hockey players. “Don’t give up at the first hurdle, and enjoy the road to one day representing your country. It’s a lot fun!”