South Africa women’s hockey captain Marsha Marescia (right) believes her team can improve their prospects and qualify for the FIH Champions Trophy tournament. In this file photo, Dirkie Chamberlain (second from right) hugs goalscorer Pietie Coetzee as (from far left) as Marescia and Lauren Penny join in the celebration during the Investec Series Women’s International Hockey match at the Randburg Hockey Stadium in February. Photo: Afsar Beg

Investec South Africa women’s hockey captain, Marsha Marescia, believes her team can make improvements on their world ranking at the Olympic Games and says their goal is to qualify for the next FIH Champions Trophy tournament.

Speaking ahead of her team’s departure tomorrow for a five-match series against Scotland, she said: “I think that our preparation has been good thus far. The experience of going to the Olympic qualifier in Feb will add huge value to our preparation as well as the many internationals that we will be playing between May and July.

In a busy few weeks ahead of the Olympics, they will also participate in the Six Nations Investec Cup in London, after which the team will play internationals against Great Britain, the Dutch, as well as Germany.

She says London 2012 will be different for her team because for the first time ever more than 50% of the team has past Olympic Games experience. “As they say, you can’t buy experience, and this will add huge value to our performance.”

Marescia says some of the challenges that the team is likely to face include individual player management, like managing recovery and injuries or niggles.

“Of course the major challenge is a financial one, as well as we are not receiving any individual support and this presents many difficulties for the individuals within our group,” she continued.

Marescia paid tribute to Investec for their outstanding support of women’s hockey. “Having Investec supporting our team has meant that we have played almost 50 internationals (or more) in a calendar year, and allowed us to increase our squad numbers therefore increasing competition in the group.

“We are extremely grateful for Investec and the contributions and support that they offer our team. It is clear that our success thus far is as a result of their sponsorship as well as hard work and dedication from the group.”