Newly appointed first team hockey coach at Jeppe High School for Boys, Siya Sityana says he is relishing the opportunity of leading one of the most competitive hockey schools in the country come the 2024 hockey season.
Sityana joined the prestigious school earlier this year from Durban High School (DHS) and takes over the reins from Gilbert De Villiers, who has made the move to Jeppe’s Johannesburg rivals, St John’s College.
The charismatic, young, and energetic commercial subject teacher enters his new role with a wealth of experience, having competed at the highest level before proving himself a suitable candidate for the lead role at Jeppe.
In his short stint at school, Sityana coached the u16B team and claimed the Team of the Year accolade at Jeppe’s Hockey Awards. He also led the u16A side to victory in the u16 Top 8 tournament.
A further indication of the high regard in which he is held came when the former South African Schools player was tasked with the responsibility of coaching the u16 Southern Gauteng side at this year’s South African Hockey Schools IPT in Bloemfontein.
“Being appointed as the first team hockey coach at a school like Jeppe Boys High is a great privilege,” Sityana told SuperSport Schools in an exclusive interview.
“It comes with great responsibility but I’m very excited for the challenge.
“The difference between the two Provinces, KZN and Gauteng, is that schools there [in KZN] play with more structure, whereas this side it’s all about letting the boys play and express themselves.”
Sityana’s love affair with hockey began at a very tender age.
Hailing from King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape, the former Dale College pupil gradually climbed the playing ranks at school and provincial level before hanging up his stick to take his seat on the coach’s bench, dishing out instructions to players.
“I started playing hockey at Dale Junior when I was 12,” he reminisced, with a grin on his face.
“I used to run away from rugby practices, and that led me to hockey. I fell in love with the sport as the years passed, and that saw me go through the Dale Junior ranks.
“I played in the u13A team before playing u14s, and then making my debut for the first team at 15 years old, and that’s when I saw that hockey was for me.”
In 2013, Sityana represented the Amathole u18 team at the IPT in Cape Town. After the tournament concluded, he was named in the South African Schools side.
After matric, he attended the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) in Pietermaritzburg. Apart from representing UKZN on the field, he also took on the task of coaching a team at Maritzburg College. As the saying goes, the rest is history.
“Being the head coach [at Jeppe] does come with a lot of pressure, even though I have the experience of coaching in different schools and assisting at Wits University,” Sityana said.
“I have experienced coaches in my corner, people that I learn from, so that makes me really feel at ease.
“I learn a lot from people, even players that are currently playing at a higher level, and I always take what’s positive and accept criticism.
“I think the experience I’ve gained, and the good people around me at Jeppe, will help me and the team going forward, and it will make things easier for us,” he added.
Jeppe’s 2023 hockey season was highlighted by an entertaining brand of hockey. The Gauteng side overran opposition week in and week out by employing a challenging, attacking approach while remaining resolute in defence.
Sityana says he is hoping for more of the same when the season kicks off next year.
“The goal for next season is to make sure we keep improving,” said Sityana.
“I don’t think it will be an easy season, but if we have a good pre-season, the results will just fall into place.
“As our motto says, ‘There’s nothing too difficult for the brave’, and we will try by all means to live up to that.”
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