The South African Elite Women Underwater Hockey Teams arrived in Quebec this past weekend to participate in the 20th Underwater Hockey World Championships that start on the 20th and end on the 28th of July 2018.
SA Defending Champs at 20th Underwater Hockey World Champs Quebec
The SA Elite Ladies, who are sponsored by SpiderTech Tape and Defy, are the defending World Champions after winning Gold in Stellenbosch in 2016. With their coach, Roger Bester, they have worked incredibly hard over the past two years to put up a worthy fight to retain their top spot in the Underwater Hockey World.
The team consists of 7 of the gold medal winners from 2016 and 4 new caps giving them a good blend of experience and fresh hunger. The 4 new caps have all come through the junior structures and have played for the SA U/19 and/or U/23 teams in world championships in the past. New cap Marli Pelser from Pretoria played for the SA U/19 team in 2008 when some of the younger players like Eleanor de Kock and Zandre Coetzee (both U/19 and Elite World Champions) where still playing U/12 field hockey!
The other 3 new caps Tatton Bouras, Jennifer Copinger and Fransesca Wightman where all members of the SA U/23 team that won bronze in Australia in 2017.
New captain Jeanie van der Merwe plays for KZN, but like Marli, she also started her underwater hockey career in Pretoria at Hillcrest and TUKS, introducing the sport to youngsters who are now her team mates.
This year, the majority of the team hails from KZN, with only lady each 1 from Gauteng and Western Cape and 2 from Gauteng North. This made logistics easy since the only heated 3m pool available for training is in Durban and the ladies had to train at that depth for the deep pool in Quebec.
Roxi Walmsley hails from a strong Underwater Hockey presence in SWD that dominated U/19 Ladies hockey for several years while Roxi was U/19 and her mom, Sue, was coached the young ladies.
The team also has two players based abroad – Lauren Dwyer, former KZN player is now based in the UK and Maddie Rive lives in the USA. Vice captain Julie Borstlap was born in France, but through an underwater hockey romance made South Africa her home. She and husband, Brent (ladies assistant coach and member of the masters men team) put in a lot of work mentoring and helping younger players to grow in the sport.
The ladies kick of their World Championship campaign against host Canada on Friday 20 July at 20h00 (SA time). On Saturday they face the always strong Colombian team in a rematch of the 2016 semi final nail biter in Stellenbosch.
For coach Roger Bester, himself a former SA elite player it will be #justanotherhockeygame as he keeps reminding the ladies, but a repeat gold medal for him will certainly be a feather in his underwater hockey cap as coach.
The games can be watched live at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSsoYFX16vdC5gJFA7qJFtw/feed
The games schedule and results are at https://uwhscores.com/t/worlds2018/team/46
As mentioned, the SA Elite Ladies received generous contributions from SpiderTech Tape and Defy. This helped them a lot since they are all amateurs and have to raise the money to prepare for and go to the World Championships, themselves. The stress of fundraising puts a strain on the players and reduces the amount of training camps and preparation that can put in. SpiderTech Tape and Defy certainly gave the ladies a huge boost in this regard.
The Masters Men team contains many years of experience at all levels and the Ou Manne have worked hard to give themselves a good chance to bring back a medal for South Africa.
The SA Elite Underwater Hockey Ladies Facebook page is .at www.facebook.com/saeliteuwh/ and the World Championship website is at http://www.uwhworlds2018.ca/ and their Facebook pageat.www.facebook.com/uwhworlds2018/
Past and future press releases are loaded on Zandre Coetzee’s LinkedIn page at https://www.linkedin.com/in/zandrewitblitz/
The SA underwater Hockey Federation website is at www.sauwhf.co.za