WESTVILLE first team hockey match-winner Caleb Carney has a ravenous hunger in the strike zone that is the hallmark of all sharpshooters.
Westville Boys’ High School first team head coach and hockey director Cameron Mackay: “Caleb is a striker. He has a fantastic hunger for the ball and is great in the press; he constantly works hard to fight for ball in the press.”
Renate Montgomery feature image: King Carney’s rocket-propelled grenade is split-secs away from ballooning the net.
Caleb is now in grade 12; does coach Cam see future potential?
“He’s definitely got a massive future ahead of him. Caleb works really hard and has a great temperament.”
Cam said it; and KZN10.com thinks King Carney’s got the goods to do it.
Caleb Carney… if you watch a hockey match in which the Westville Boys’ High and national title-winning KZN Coastal striker is involved, you quickly will take notice – he’s fast, strong on the ball, got quicksilver hands and a great goalshot.
So I wanted to know more about the Westville talisman.
Hi Caleb, it’s great to have you on KZN10.com.
“Thanks sir, I appreciate your interest.”
Durban boy through and through?
“I was born in Durban; hometown is Hillcrest, in grade 12 and 18 years old.”
Your work rate, love of the game, dedication, all the training, all the match play, does it get a bit much at times?
“At times it can be sapping but for the most part it amps me to be with the team and to be on the Astro as often as possible.”
Caleb, I watched just about every KZN Coastal A game at the iWYZE U18 Hockey Nationals; I got the impression that you are a hockey forward with abundant talent and then some. What is it about playing striker that you enjoy and adds value to the team?
“Yes I am a striker/forward, my natural instinct is to attack and score goals – I am most recognised for my ability to score, as well as to create goals for my team, hence striker is the position at which I can lead from the front and add value most effectively.”
Compact and definitely not goal-shy. Little wonder that his favourite soccer player is one Wayne Rooney.
Caleb you have no doubt played other sports, so what is it about hockey?
“I play football and cricket but hockey is my favourite because not only have I achieved the most in it but I have also made the most connections and built valuable friendships through it.”
You have probably got a pretty good hockey CV. Please tell us about it.
“It’s been quite a journey so far, for sure.
“It all started with U13B KZN (won Gold at Maritzburg College) where I also received top goal scorer. U14A KZN (won gold at Jeppe), U16B KZN (won Gold at Kearsney), U16A KZN (won Bronze at St John’s), U18A KZN (Kearsney) and U18A KZN (won Gold at Maritzburg College this year – Selected for U18B SA Schools).”
It’s certainly been a path of recognition – I felt you were most unfortunate not to get the nod for the SA Schools A side that played against Australia Schoolboys U17 but so be it.
No, let’s explore this further: I am not alone in saying you had an excellent iWYZE U18 Boys Hockey Nationals in July at Maritzburg College’s Papes (where KZN Coastal did so well in winning the SA title) and on the AB Jackson Astro, so not being selected for the SA U18A hockey team must have come as a blow.
Obviously you must have been hugely disappointed.
How do you hope to put that disappointment behind you and perhaps even use it as a motivating force in taking your hockey to the next level? Do you think that in 2019 you will be an even better hockey player?
“Yes, making the SA U18B team and not the national A side was a disappointment but it was still an honour to be recognised. I do think that I will be a better player in 2019 as I always give 100%.”
What are your plans for next year?
“My plans for hockey in 2019 are not 100% mapped out as yet but I intend to play club hockey and work very hard in search of further recognition, be it provincial or national selection.”
How many years have you played first XI hockey at Westville and how do you feel your game has developed since your debut?
“I played 3 years first team under our coach Mr Cameron Mackay, who is also Westville director of hockey, achieving 50 caps.
“My game has come a long way and I have matured as a hockey player in general as a result of the excellent coaching and High Performance Programme at Westville.”
What has been your most memorable Westville hockey game and why?
“It was in 2016 against Kearsney at Kearsney in the KZN Top 8 Tournament where we won 3-2. It was one of my first games as a junior for Westville first side and I played alongside my brother Chad Carney.
“I scored an upright back-stick goal to get us to 2-1 right after Kearsney had equalised. I will never forget the way we celebrated that goal, as I found myself under a pile of senior team-mates all cheering.”
As far as 2018 Westville firsts hockey is concerned, who were the players in your team that you feel had a particularly good year?
“Well, if I may say so, I feel that Keegan Gibbon and I played really well as a combination, collectively racking up the goals together. The team as a group really pulled together and worked hard towards the common goal.
“The Westville first team hockey season would never have turned out so well without the complete buy-in from the team.”
As said, I have seen you play a number of hockey matches this year.
What struck me is your energy upfront and mobility both in terms of pace and lateral and vertical movement on and off the ball.
Do you put in a lot of conditioning and fitness work or does it come from being on the turf a lot?
You also have very quick hands and are able to use your stickwork to win penalty corner scoring opportunities; to create space for your team-mates in the scoring zone; as well as manufacture goalshot chances of your own.
Have you always displayed these characteristics in your hockey or has it been something you’ve worked on?
“I think explosive pace and energy, as well as quick hands and scoring ability have been strengths of mine from a young age.
“Conditioning and fitness have improved over time and with that has exploited my natural ability to the fullest. Plus of course the amount of time on the turf, which also contributes to improvement.
“Quick hands and eye for the goal are aspects that we diligently worked on with Mr Mackay at trainings and the more time we spent on the turf the better I became in these aspects of the game.”
Effective strikers are often targeted… Inevitably closely marked and shadowed by dogged defenders whose singular focus when your team is in position is
a) to stop you getting the ball
b) prevent you from unloading goalshots
– and probably a couple of other things too.
It can be niggly, annoying stuff, as many a frustrated striker will tell you, so how would you describe your temperament on the turf?
“Aaaah that’s easy sir; tenacious yet calm and relaxed under pressure.”
Short and sweet; uncomplicated. I like.
Westville first hockey team had an outstanding season. The consistent run of form… – was a lot of it due to Mr Mackay? How has he helped improve your game?
“Yes, the success of the Westville first hockey team was hugely due to our coach Cameron Mackay.
“Although tough, hard on the boys, Mr Mackay also knows how to have fun with us. The hard, uncompromising no-excuses nature of his coaching pushes the boys to do well and improve, whilst the fun aspect keeps them motivated.
“Over the years Mr Mackay has pushed and encouraged me to always do better and achieve my full potential. He has backed me and believed in me since I began at the school in grade 8.
“I would not be the hockey player I am today if it were not for the instrumental role that Mr Mackay played in my career; as my coach and mentor.
“There have been other coaches that have also contributed to my success on the turf but none quite as majorly as Mr Mackay, thank you sir, I owe much to you.”
Grateful players… Not necessarily easy to find, especially the talented individuals for whom it comes so easily at school level.
I suspect that Caleb Carney has got two vital aspects of his hockey development nailed down – hard (smart) work makes for maximising natural talent.
So Caleb, at what age did you start playing hockey, which primary school and where is it, and which coaches, apart from Mr Mackay, have had the most influence in growing your game – and how?
“Sir, I started playing hockey at the age of 6 at Hillcrest Primary School. My first major influence as a coach was Mr Scott Munn, who told me that whatever I did I should never stop playing hockey.
“Another majorly influential coach was Mike Baker my KZN U13B coach, who nicknamed me King Carney and backed me when few others did.”
Has the support of family and friends or particular people been a boost in the good times and the bad?
“Yes sir, definitely. My very supportive family and friends have helped me through disappointments and success throughout the years.
“My family have always been at my games in full force, as well as some of my friends, and it always gave me the extra boost looking up and seeing them watching.
If one thinks of the thousands of hockey-playing schoolboys across the country, you have achieved much in your school hockey career and have worked hard for your recognition and rewards.
Do you think it might be difficult to motivate yourself to keep working on improving your hockey once school is out and the personality that is Caleb Carney moves on to the next adventure?
“No sir, I love playing hockey and that will always drive me to improve wherever I am playing. My only aim is to have fun and enjoy my hockey. If the fun and the enjoyment are present that is when I play my best.”
Caleb (I love King Carney, thanks for the nickname Bakes!) what has your time at Westville Boys taught you? After all, you have spent 5 years at one of South Africa’s most highly regarded boys high schools.
“Aaaah that’s easy sir. Westville Boys has taught me to always act with respect and integrity. Our motto is the key to what Westville stands for: It says, “Stay the Course” and “May I not shrink from my Purpose”.
“What Westville Boys’ High School has taught me is to stay true. Humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Respect your elders and honour those who deserve to be honoured. I am a Westville Boy and I shall stay true to all I am and never shrink from my purpose. This is what Westville Boys has taught me.”
Phew. Goose-bump stuff. I’m ready to take to the turf right now if King Carney is on my shoulder. Maybe not. Some things are best left undone.
To wrap it up let’s hear more on King Carney from Westville first team head coach and director of hockey, the highly regarded Cameron Scott Mackay:
“Thanks Jono… Apart from what I said earlier, or in conjunction with my earlier words, Caleb is a hardworking young man who possesses strengths that add so much value.
“Caleb is strong, fast and resilient; he can hit a ball better than most and has a deadly backhand.
“He has also become a fantastic penalty corner drag flicker, scoring plenty of goals this year. His natural touch in front of goal this year saw him finish on 26 goals. During his 50 caps he scored 46 goals.
“But perhaps the key is that Caleb is a gentleman on and off the field and a pleasure to coach.
“Caleb Carney is the epitome of a true Westville Boy.”
Phew some more – Cam Mackay doesn’t give away praise easily; you’ve got to earn it by your actions. Clearly King Carney has passed the Cam Test with flying colours.
KZN10.com wishes you everything of the best, Caleb, in life and your hockey future.
Go get young man.