Twelve schools are represented in the 18-player South African men’s u21 hockey squad, which is set to participate in the FIH Junior World Cup in Malaysia next month.
The tournament starts on the 5th of December and will see South Africa make the trip with the intention of improving on their recent performances in the Southeast Asian nation.
The South Africans have been seeded in Pool B, alongside African giants’ Egypt, whom they beat at the beginning of 2023 to be crowned African champions, and the European nations of Germany and France.
Guy Elliott‘s troops enter the event on the back of a not-so-impressive showing during last month’s Sultan of Johor Cup, which was also held in Malaysia, and won by their pool opponents, Germany, who beat Australia 3-1 in a penalty shootout after the final finished 0-0.
Playing in the tougher of the two pools, South Africa’s results in the tournament included a 1-6 loss to Germany, a 1-2 defeat to Great Britain, and a 0-4 loss to Australia. After failing to register a win during the pool stages, South Africa suffered a narrow 1-2 loss to the hosts, Malaysia, in the 7th/8th place playoff.
That team, however, was quite different to the one that will do duty in December, with seven changes having been made to that line-up. Contrast that, too, with the squad that won the Junior Africa Cup; only nine of those players are in the Junior World Cup squad. It should be a stronger team, without a doubt, than the one that was recently in action in Malaysia.
When the South African Hockey Association last week confirmed the squad for junior hockey’s biggest event, it featured players from a handful of the top hockey-playing schools in the country.
From Jeppe Boys High, 18-year-old Jaydon Brooker has been called up after a stellar season leading the Johannesburg school. He is the youngest player in the team and is joined by Jeppe Old Boy, Ross Breytenbach.
If you missed it, read here: SA’s Rising star, Brooker is just getting started.
SACS and Bishops, both from the Western Cape, have three players each in the squad.
The SACS boys are Damian Knott, Nathan Ansell and Gianluca Virissimo. Ansell, who was the Head Boy, matriculated in 2020, while Knott and Virissimo are from the class of 2021. Their neighbours, Bishops, will be represented by Daniel Neuhoff, James Flint, and rising star, Mustapha Cassiem.
Paul Roos Gymnasium also had two of their former players selected, Hans Neethling and Sian Maart. The rest of the side is made up of players from King Edward VII (Reece Govender), Maritzburg College (Ayakha Mthalane), and Hilton College (David Tshebi).
Cameron Le Forestier, from Park Town Boys High, is also included, along with Beaulieu College‘s Fawaaz Kahder, while Cape Town’s Langa Hockey Club is represented by Thabang Jeyi. Leruo Ditlhakanyane who, like Brooker, is in matric in 2023, is from Durban High School, and Calvin Davis flies the flag for Kearsney College.
South Africa will kick off its campaign on the 5th of December against Germany at 11:00. The side will also be looking to draw inspiration from the men’s team who won the African Olympic Qualifier earlier this month to secure a place at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Leruo Ditlhakanyane (Durban High School), Jaydon Brooker (Jeppe Boys High), Ross Breytenbach (Jeppe Boys High), Ayakha Mthalane (Maritzburg College), Calvin Davis (Kearsney College), Cameron Le Forestier (Parktown Boys High), Damian Knott (SACS), Daniel Neuhoff (Bishops), David Tshebi (Hilton College) Gianluca Virissimo (SACS), Hans Neethling (Paul Roos Gymnasium), Thabang Jeyi (Langa Hockey Club), Sian Maart (Paul Roos Gymnasium), Reece Govender (King Edward VII), Nathan Ansell (SACS), Mustapha Cassiem (Bishops), James Flint (Bishops), Fawaaz Kahder (Beaulieu College).