Saturday, 21 July 2018

World Champions to defend their title in Quebec.

The South African Elite Women Underwater Hockey Team.
The South African Masters Men and 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.

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 ladies have been using SpiderTech Tape in cases of small injuries as well as for preventing unnecessary strain and for support while training preparing for the World Championships..They will also be using SpiderTech Tape in and out of the pool in Quebec.

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 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 team consists of Darren Hanner, Dave Chapman, Willem Zylstra, Dirk Tromp, Nico van der Merwe, Marius Branquinho, Leon van der Merwe, Emile Spies, Brent Borstlap and Jack van Blerk

South Africa did not send a Elite Men's and Masters Ladies team to Quebec mainly due to financial considerations. Despite a lot of interest and many world class players, there was just not enough players that could make the financial commitment to pay their own way to the world championships. The cost of preparing (training camps, etc) and going too Quebec was around R 50 000  per player. As mentioned the players get no financial contribution from the SA Underwater Hockey Federation, Olympic Committee (SASCOC) or Government. 

The SA Masters Ladies have had consistent podium finishes at World Championships and we are sure that both the Masters Ladies and Elite Men will be back in full force in 2020.

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/

On the attached pictures is Zandre Coetzee (youngest) and Dave Chapman (oldest) as the SA flag bearers at the opening ceremony on Wednesday evening. The second picture is most of the SA ladies at a recent training camp in their official SA swimsuits. Contact me for high quality photographs

The SA underwater Hockey Federation website is at www.sauwhf.co.za

(this is not an official SA Underwater Hockey press release and is done in my private capacity as a underwater hockey fan and parent)

For more information on the progress at Worlds, contact me at 
De Wet Coetzee

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