Durban High School (DHS) Director of Hockey and 1st team coach Michael Baker has announced his departure from the school. He will be joining Stellenbosch’s Paul Roos Gymnasium as their Head of Hockey from next year.
Baker, who joined DHS six years ago, transformed the sporting code at the school, leading the Horseflies’ various age group teams to become among the best in South Africa. The DHS hockey programme went from being downtrodden to being a force to be reckoned with.
When Baker arrived at DHS, the school had only four hockey teams. Now, it has 12, and the competitiveness he has brought out in the boys has also helped them produce one of the most eye-pleasing brands of hockey to be found anywhere.
Announcing his departure via social media platforms, the coach said he believes he has reached his goal of turning DHS into one of the powerhouses of South African schoolboy hockey. He said the journey had been tough, with School losing many matches before the turnaround took shape. Now, though, the reversal has been nothing short of remarkable.
In an exclusive interview with SuperSport Schools earlier this year, Baker revealed that part of the reason for his success and that of his charges was the backing he received from the DHS hierarchy.
“The school was supportive from the get-go; our Director of Sports, Mr. [Nathan] Pillay, and our Headmaster, Mr. [Tony] Pinheiro, have supported me with the vision I had,” he revealed at the time.
“We’ve been able to hire some good coaches that share the same vision as me.
“We are building a good culture in the hockey programme at the moment, and this year has been a game-changer, with the school building an Astro at the school, so it’s been huge being able to train on campus and play on campus.”
After the Inter-provincial Tournament in Bloemfontein in mid-year, DHS had three players – Leruo Ditlhakanyane, Lethabo Bogacwi and Keelan Henry – selected for the South Africa under-18 A squad. In fact, Ditlhakanyane was also a member of the SA u21 team that was crowned champions of Africa, and he scored in the final against Egypt.
Aldridge Maasdorp was included in the SA u18 B squad, Lumi Matwele in the SA u17 line-up and, following the U16 IPT, Josh Mungherera, Bhavesh Naicker and Sitchaba Siyoyo cracked the nod for the SA u16A squad, with Christopher Abrahams in the SA u16B squad.
Those achievements speak volumes about the quality and depth Baker helped nurture during his time in charge at DHS.
In the forthcoming season, Baker, with similar backing from his new employers, will be hoping to make a comparable impact for Paul Roos, which competes in one of the toughest regions of the country.
He and his players will face fierce competition from the likes of Paarl Boys’ High, Paarl Gimnasium, South African College High School (SACS), Bishops, Wynberg Boys’ High and Rondebosch Boys’ High.
Paul Roos Rector Andre van Staden congratulated Baker on his appointment, saying he believes Baker’s expertise will benefit a hockey programme that already ranks among the best in the country.
“Mr Baker’s wealth of experience, not only in top boys ‘ schools, but also as part of the senior national programme, makes him the right candidate for the post,” said Van Staden.
“His passion and vision combined will ensure that PRG’s (Paul Roos Gymnasium’s) hockey programme remains one of the best in the country.”
Baker’s experience includes serving on the SA u21 men’s selection panel, working as a conditioner with the national under-17 squad, and coaching the KZN Coastal u18 team at the Inter-provincial Tournament this year.