Michael Baker the catalyst in DHS hockey resurgence

I felt it a few weeks ago. DHS first hockey team were playing Maritzburg College on Papes Astro in the KZN capital. It was an out-of-body feeling – as if some “thing” was fighting its way into my psyche, my very body.

I had seen the DHS boys entering the arena and there was a purpose about the way they walked and quietly talked; then the “Good morning sir” with an accompanying open-faced smile, in the boys’ eyes a genuine sense that they meant it, were not obligated  to do it.

Feature caption: DHS first team celebrate a goal against Maritzburg College on Papes Astro in the KZN capital. School lost narrowly in a game that could easily have gone the other way.

I don’t get this “feeling” every day. From that point onward I made a conscious effort to discern whether that “feeling” about this team would stay with me. It did.


The DHS team after beating Michaelhouse.


Often, you are only as good as your leader, and in School’s first ever director of hockey, first team coach Michael Baker, Durban High School had found the ideal man to resurrect the sport. A Michael Baker quote I found on DHS social media sums it up. “Don’t waste your time looking back. You are not going that way.”

In deciding on a headline, the word “catalyst” came to mind: not sure if it would work, I looked up its meaning and here it is: “a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction – without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.”

Perfect. The Michael Baker substance has galvanised a chemical reaction in the boys of DHS hockey. He is still pretty much the same Michael Baker. But his “effect” has been nothing short of remarkable.



‘Don’t waste your time looking back. You are not going that way,’ says Michael Baker…


And what a journey it has been: In 2016 Michaelhouse first team beat DHS 8-2 and 11-0.

As the DHS Foundation’s Andrew Shedlock put it in a wonderfully moving tribute to School’s director of hockey: “DHS had arrived at Michaelhouse with one-and-a-half hockey teams.

“A coach missed the bus to Michaelhouse. DHS U16A were thrashed and the game was cut short, and to make matters worse some of the U16 team had to fill in for the 1st team, the 1st team result …… embarrassing to say the least.”

This year, on 14 May, again DHS took on Michaelhouse and the DHS results read: Played: 11, Won: 7, Drew: 1, Lost: 3,” says Andrew. “Our 1st team won 4 -2 whilst our U16A team won 4-1.”


The 36-player DHS representation in the 2022 KZN Coastal provincial teams is School’s biggest in history.


Shedlock goes further: “Five years ago, in 2017, our results against Maritzburg College were as embarrassing. The DHS 1st team lost by a record score and our U16A and U14A teams’ games were also stopped short when the score was 10-0 to College, that day DHS only had four teams.

“In 2018, DHS under the new headmaster, Tony Pinheiro, employed a director of hockey, his name Michael Baker – and what a masterstroke it was. What Michael has done for DHS hockey over the past five years in beyond comprehendible.”

I think Mr Pinheiro saw something in Mr Baker that went way beyond hockey knowledge. I think he saw in Michael Baker a hockey educator who would inspire the boys, instil in them a strong sense of self-belief.

Michael Baker is very much his own man. Everything about him tells you that. I saw him in action with the KZN Coastal U13 team a few years ago. They loved their coach. They won lots of matches. They were a happy group who loved playing.


The DHS first hockey team of 2022 with Michael Baker and staff.


Andrew Shedlock again: “Michael has grown DHS Hockey from 4 teams to 12 teams and this without DHS’s own Astroturf during that time. Michael has turned DHS hockey from a ‘weekend walkover’ into one of the most formidable hockey schools in KZN and, dare I say, South Africa.

“Why I share this story, is that there are some people who just go about their business, they don’t seek the accolades and the glory, they just do their job, and that is… Michael Baker.”

Shedlock, who had a distinguished sporting career as a DHS schoolboy and after school, and who has given much of his time since, said this of Baker: “We as DHS Old Boys are extremely grateful for what you have done for DHS hockey.”

From the dire situation just a few years ago, Baker and his coaches have transformed School hockey into a group who recently achieved 36 players being selected for the various KZN Coastal age-group teams.

Shedlock added: “DHS Old Boys wish to congratulate our hockey coaching staff, who have taken our hockey programme to the next level. To our boys, all 36 of you, a massive congratulations to all of you on these historic selections. In School’s hockey history, this is the largest KZN selection of players by an absolute landslide.”

As a DHS parent put it: “Quite unbelievable what can be achieved with leadership and vision.”

Van Heerdens rugby field at DHS looking immaculate. The DHS resurgence is across the board.

#DHS #School #Horsefly #BlueTyphoon

Red Army edge DHS in high-quality hockey thriller

The Maritzburg College first hockey team shaded Durban High School (DHS) firsts 2-1 in an exciting contest played out in front of an appreciative crowd at Papes Astro on Saturday morning (23 April 2022).

The final scoreline could have just as easily been 5-4 either way or 5-5 such were the quantity and quality of openings carved out by the protagonists – and the at times exceptional saves made by the respective goalkeepers.

Feature photo caption: DHS director of hockey and first team coach Michael Baker is the leading light in the hockey resurgence at Durban High School.

The opening 10 or so minutes saw DHS (School) establish the lion’s share of possession and territory, transferring the ball smoothly left and right, probing for the requisite space to free up the receiver or create an extra man. The Red Black and White defence was composed and patient in absorbing this pressure, leaving School with little that was tangible on the electronic scoreboard.

in the 13th minute Maritzburg College (MC, College, Red Army) suddenly accelerated and it looked to me that it was C Fulton who found space in the attacking third, his pass left just evading the outstretched stick of R Graham in the six-yard box.

A minute later College again poured through all-to freely in a manner that DHS would not have been altogether pleased, and it was the prolific striker Cameron van der Vliet, lurking expectantly inside the six-yard box, who deftly slid the ball past the keeper’s left for the opening goal (MC 1 DHS 0).

DHS came back strongly and captain O Ndondo made a telling inroad through the left channel that placed the School skipper inside the strike zone, and it took a no-nonsense tackle from strongly-built Red Army defender A Carter to repel the threat.

So absorbed I was in the game, it felt as if the first 25 minutes of this match went by in a flash, a sure sign that the hockey contest on show was a compelling spectacle for the sizeable crowd.

In a development that held much promise in the 32nd minute, College centre back and captain Matthew Ponter unfurled a big aerial ball from deep that found L Seshemane but School’s left-side defender was up to speed in containing the danger.

Given the quality and threat posed by College, who continued pressing for that elusive 2-goal advantage, the boys in Oxford Blue and Old Gold were under extreme pressure at times. The Red Army’s left-side striker skilfully stole along the baseline to earn a penalty corner. A neat variation left ensued from the set-piece, A Styan’s shot well-saved by DHS keeper K Henry.

Literally seconds from the hooter, DHS conjured up a great goalshot chance inside the six-yard box, only for the College defence to deal with the danger in collective fashion, successfully scrambling the ball away.

Into the second half and School’s elegant centre back slideruled a defence-splitting left-right diagonal to B Gqweta whose interchange with S Zondi brought the latter oh-so close to equalising matters on the scoresheet.

Seven minutes into the second half, DHS’s incessant pressure finally brought reward, experienced umpire Ian Griffiths having no hesitation in award School a penalty corner at the Princess Margaret Drive End, and DHS captain O Ndondo made no mistake with a solid drag-flick (1-1).

As umpire Griffith told KZN10.com afterwards: “In the second half the tempo and quality picked up another notch.”

Summing up a satisfactory outing from an official’s perspective, Griffiths said, “This was an attractive and relatively easy game to manage.”

Seven minutes left in the third chukka and College came close to edging in front on the scoreboard once again as play continued to open up across all corners of the playing surface.

As the clock ticked down, both sides carved out a couple of excellent chances. The Red Army’s I Mosupye forced a penalty corner, from which a double slip-left emerged, only for DHS shot-stopper K Henry to pull off a remarkable reflex save.

School finished the third chukka in convincing fashion, N Ndonga forcing a pair of outstanding saves from the in-form College keeper Roan Marais, the second of which demanded a stunning diving effort low to his right.

With eight minutes left in the match, the Red Army’s G Winlock, I Mosupye and (it looked like) L Seshemane combined beautifully to unpick the DHS defence and Cameron van der Vliet duly delivered his second, and matchwinning, goal (2-1).

College forced another penalty corner soon after; DHS survived and raced away to win a penalty corner at the Ron Jury Sports Centre End. With a small matter of bare minutes and seconds left, it was crunch time, but once again the Red Army defenders were up for the challenge, to leave the final score reading Maritzburg College 2 DHS 1.

DHS captain O Zondo summed it up for his team-mates in saying to KZN10.com: “We are pretty happy with the way we played, but we should have converted our many chances better.”

Red Army head coach Kyle Emerson: “It was an exciting game with end-to-end action between two tactically good teams that played structured hockey.”


As I understand it, this DHS first hockey team principally consists of grade 11 boys who have come through four school years under the overarching guidance of director of hockey Michael Baker.

With Michael Baker at the helm, DHS hockey is undoubtedly on the right track, and we can look forward to the rest of this season and the 2023 year with much enthusiasm.

The politeness and well-groomed attire of the DHS boys who passed my way was also most noticeable and a pleasure to see.

Well done, School!

Much to look forward to, but…

The naming this week of the KZN Inland boys’ age-group provincial hockey teams was in anticipation of the respective national and regional tournaments that were scheduled to be held in July.

However, it has been decided to postpone all such events.

Martin Ashworth feature photo: St Charles College first team captain Daniel Jacobs is in the KZN Inland U18A team.

The government’s reintroduction of the ban on contact sports to prevent the further spread of the Corona virus cluster outbreaks means that cross-school and cross-provincial-borders interactions are now no longer possible.

It is now hoped that the national and regional tournaments will be held in the October school holidays.


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The interprovincial U18A team Hockey Nationals was due to take place in Stellenbosch from July 10 to 14.

If a player was selected for South Africa U18 at that tournament, he would have been required to participate in a High Performance camp in Stellenbosch from July 15 to 17.

Thereafter, the SA U18 team was due to play in a Test series against Namibia U18 from July 18 to 21 in Stellenbosch.

The provincial U16A teams’ Hockey Nationals was due to be held from July 17 to 21 in Stellenbosch so the SA U18 side would have been sure of plenty of support during their Test matches against Namibia.

Meanwhile, the KZN Inland U18B team would have been playing in the U18B Regional Tournament from July 21 to 24 in Johannesburg.

The KZN Inland U16B team would also have been in Johannesburg from July 21 to 24 for their regional tournament, as would the KZN Inland U14A team for their regional tournament.


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It is understood that neither the respective KZN Inland provincial girls’ teams nor any of the KZN Coastal provincial boys and girls teams have been named as yet, as the trials had not been completed at the time the ban on school contact sports was reinstituted.

There are 8 Maritzburg College boys in the KZN Inland U18A side with 6 from Hilton College and 1 each from Michaelhouse and St Charles College.

In the KZN Inland U16A team there are 9 players from Hilton College, 4 from Maritzburg College, 2 from St Charles College and 1 from Michaelhouse.

In the KZN Inland U14A team there are 8 boys from Maritzburg College, 4 from Hilton College and 2 from St Charles College.



KZN Inland U18A (shirt number and name): 1. R. Marais; 2. N. Khumalo, 3. C. Osborne, 4. R. Dobeyn, 7. A. Mthalane, 12. J. Jansen, 14. T. Conolly, 16. C. Fulton (all Maritzburg College); K. Watt, 8. D. den Bakker, 9. D. Kitshoff, 10. D. Tshebi, 13. D. Pratt, 15. U. Nowele (all Hilton College); 6. K. Rathepe (Michaelhouse); 11. D. Jacobs (St Charles College).
Coach R. Jones. Assistant coach: D. Kimfley. Manager: C. Andrews.

KZN Inland U18B (shirt number and name): 1. J. Williams, 7. H. Giles, 15. A. Nzimande (all Michaelhouse); 2. M. Rout, 3. G. Armstrong, 11. M. Bray, 14. A. Matsa (all Hilton College); 4. M. Ponter, 6. G. Winlock, 10. R. Crookes, 12. A. Chiliza (all Maritzburg College); 5. O. Mkhabela, 9. T. Adewusi (both St Charles College); 8. S. Myeza, 13. A. Ngema (both CD).
Coach: M. Coombes. Assistant coach:  C. Volminck. Manager: (TBC).

KZN Inland U18 teams’ non-travelling reserves (in no particular order): J. Goodwin, K. Gilson, J. Pike, N. Mntambo, V. Malinga, M. Selane (all Hilton College); J. Lalor, C. McKean, A. Carter (all Maritzburg College); S. Gaston (Grace College).


KZN Inland U16A (shirt number and name): 1. M. Barnardo, 4. A. Khumalo, 7. G. Aranky, 9. P. Dlamini (all Maritzburg College); 2. N. Shozi, 3. N. Chantler, 5. G. Bridgeford, 6. M. Diemont, 8. A. Mda, 10. J. Kitto, 14. T. Hove, 15. K. Khoele, 12. W. Liebenberg (all Hilton College); 11. R. Dicken, 13. C. Ryland (both St Charles College); 16. J. Gilson (Michaelhouse).
Coach: D. Kimfley. Assistant coach: R. Jones. Manager: G. von Meyer.

KZN Inland U16B (shirt number and name): 1. N. Holmes, 4. K. Dobeyn, 5. L. Akerman, 6. L. Armstrong, 7. S. Sithembu, 9. I. Mosupye, 11. B. Dlamini, 13. L. Seshemane, 14. A. Sithole, 15. J. Konigkramer, 16. A. Makhanya (all Maritzburg College); 2. P. Nkompela, 3. J. Yeadon (both Michaelhouse); 8. J. Kitshoff, 10. C. Thomson, 12. M. Dakile (all Hilton College).
Coach M. Cele. Assistant coach: R Johnson. Manager: M. Mazibuko.

KZN Inland U16 teams’ non-traveling reserves (in no particular order): J. Julius, M. Lougher-Clarke, D. Herbert (all Hilton College); M. Mashinini, M. Ngobeni (both St Dominics); S. Zulu (Newcastle); J. Lawrence (Michaelhouse); D. Checkly (Howick).


KZN Inland U14A (shirt number and name): 1. B. Thornton-Dibb, 2. D. Jackson, 4. K. Botha, 6. A. Mthalane, 9. S. Sithembu, 7. G. Askew, 12. A. Dlamini, 14. K. Jenkins (all Maritzburg College); 3. X. Enslin, 5. M. Thomas, 8. R. Mudau, 11. C. Smith (all Hilton College); 10. M. Moola, 13. A. Qumo (both St Charles College).
Coach M. Fairweather. Assistant coach: P. Gonlag. Manager: C Mbanjwa.

KZN Inland U14 team non-traveling reserves (in no particular order): R. Honiball, 5. R. Adijbuyo (both St Charles College); 2. R. van der Vliet (Maritzburg College); 3. L. Camerer (Michaelhouse); 4. J. Webster (Hilton College).




Maritzburg College hockey has long produced high numbers of schoolboy provincial players and this year is no exception.

Out of the total of 46 players named in the recently-selected 3 provincial age-group A teams (U14, U16, U18) in the KZN Inland hockey province, no less than 20 (or 43%) are Maritzburg College boys.

In the 2 KZN Inland B teams that have been chosen (in the U16 and U18 age groups) Maritzburg College boys make up 15 (or 48%) of the 31 players selected.

That is a total of 35 Maritzburg College boys (45%) out of the total of 77 boys selected for the KZN Inland provincial teams.

This achievement speaks volumes for the dedication of both the boys and their coaches.

Let us hope that the government will backtrack on the recently introduced ban on school contact sports in time for all the selected KZN Inland boys to experience the challenges of playing for their province in an SA Interprovincial Nationals Hockey Tournament.




RF Marais, NL Khumalo, CD Osborne, RW Dobeyn, AT Mthalane, JCR Jansen, CJ Fulton, TS Conolly.
Coach: Robin Jones (Maritzburg College’s director of hockey)


MR Ponter, GD Winlock, RJ Crookes , AT Chiliza,

Non-Travelling reserves: A Carter, J Lalor, C McKean


MJ Barnardo, A Khumalo, GR Aranky, PA Dlamini


NI Holmes, KH  Dobeyn, LN Akerman, LD Armstrong, S Sithembu, IG Mosupye, BU Dlamini, L Seshemane, AO Sithole, JH Konigkramer, A Makhanya


BJ Thornton-Dibb, DC Jackson, KHB Botha, A Mthalane, GA Askew, S Sithembu, A Dlamini, KR Jenkins

Non-Travelling Reserve: R van der Vliet

 (Missing from the photograph: R Crookes, A Chiliza, G Aranky, L Seshemane, A Sithole, S Sithembu)


KZN10.com website and social media thanks the exceptional #HalfwayToyota #Howick motor vehicle dealership and its outstanding general manager Brandon Brokensha for their support. I cannot do this alone. Contact me at joncookroy@gmail.com for info on the various advertising options and more. #TogetherWeAreOne. And why not send Brandon an email at brandon@halfwayhowick.co.za



With the mystifying government moratorium on school contact sports, which has no medical science or logic to back it, let’s take a look at the Kearsney College vs Northwood 1st team hockey match 10 days ago – and it may well be the last game of the year, unless the government bows to pressure and fast-shoe shuffles on its mistake.


On 23 April the two sides met and the outcome was a 2-2 draw. Just 22 days later, the outcome was different.

Kearsney started the game very strongly, dominating possession and creating numerous early chances, said the Kearsney report.

Tracey van den Aardweg feature photo: Kearsney 1st XI captain Manzi Mhlungu in possession against Northwood.

Kearsney’s strikers were receiving great ball in dangerous areas; but Northwood defended those areas well and managed to keep the scores level.


Shaun Baker, Northwood first team coach and hockey director, Maritzburg College Old Boy and the 2002 captain of the #RedArmy, and his KZN10.com peers such as Kearsney’s J.J Reed know that hockey’s educational value goes far beyond the white lines and close confines of a hockey Astro. And hats off to Bakes, who has grown the number of hockey teams at Northwood to 23, which is comfortably the most number of hockey teams at any 1 of the KZN10 schools.


Northwood took some time to get going and really opened up the game towards the end of the second chukka.

Both teams put on a great display of hockey with some really close chances going both ways.

With the game still at 0-0 going into the final 15 minutes it was going to take something special from either team to take the lead.

Kearsney broke the deadlock with a great goal from striker Daniel de Kock.


Kearsney’s Daniel de Kock scored two goals against Northwood. Daniel’s team-mate Jacques Minnaar (9) watches intently. Photo Tracey van den Aardweg


Kearsney used the momentum to run in two more goals, one from eventual man of the match Kai Hielckert and the final goal giving Daniel de Kock his second of the game.

Other notable performances came from Campbell Duckworth, who controlled the midfield, and Bryce Wiggett, who controlled Kearsney’s defence.

One assumed that Northwood coach Shaun Baker and Kearsney’s JJ Reed plus Wayne Marsden would have had a tidy number of matches ahead for their players to work on the positives and minuses from this encounter.

But… the government has made short work of that particular assumption.


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Great Friday for Westville hockey at Glenwood

It doesn’t happen every day that a KZN10 school gets these results against a fellow, established KZN10 hockey school, yet that is exactly the story of yesterday afternoon and early evening’s matches between hosts Glenwood and visitors Westville on the 3 Schools Turf in south Durban.

The number 5 seemed to have a special meaning if one looks at the results achieved with the Westville lads smacking in 5 goals in each of 5 of these 8 match outcomes.

Feature photo caption: All smiles for captain Randal Govender (front row, extreme left), coach Cam Mackay (5th from right, front row) and Team Westville firsts after beating hosts Glenwood 5-1 on the 3 Schools Turf in Durban last night.

Glenwood, under director of hockey and first team coach Jonty Robinson, have a quality hockey programme and this underscores the fact that on the day it was pretty much all Westville.

The first teams drew at the recent KZN Schools Hockey Festival, as I understand it, so the comprehensive scoreline of 5-1 to Westville this time round is all the more remarkable.

Westville won 7 of the 8 matches with the only win that went Glenwood’s way being the U16C match, which the hosts won 1-0.

Of the top-tier matches, the U14A clash went 5-0 to Westville, while the U16A Westville lads copied their first side with a mirror-image scoreline of 5-1.

It happens like that sometimes, so good on you, Westville first team captain Randal Govender and team-mates, director of hockey and first team coach Cam Mackay and all at Westville Hockey. These days are ones to savour.

I am sure that Glenwood will be back in strong fashion after absorbing the learnings of the day.

Results I have to hand right now are as follows…

1st team: Glenwood 1 Westville 5
2nds: Glenwood 0 Westville 2
3rds: Glenwood 0 Westville 5

U16A: Glenwood 1 Westville 5
U16B: Glenwood 0 Westville 5
U16C: Glenwood 1 Westville 0

U14A: Glenwood 0 Westville 5
U14B: Glenwood 0 Westville 1

An encouraging resumption of KZN10.com website and social media, as school sport returns. The last 14 months destroyed me financially. Seriously. Destroyed. Halfway Toyota Howick has shown leadership and belief in putting its support into assisting in keeping me alive. I urge you to join Brandon Brokensha and his dealership in backing me financially. I cannot do this alone. Contact me at joncookroy@gmail.com

Maritzburg College hockey is fast making its mark in 2021

The Maritzburg College hockey season has got off to an exceptional start with 12 wins, two draws and 1 loss for its premier teams in the recent KZN Schools Hockey Festival.

And with six Maritzburg College Old Boys in the current SA men’s Olympic Games squad, the Red Black White hockey flag is flying high. Best wishes to former Maritzburg College captains Matthew Guise-Brown (also head prefect in his year), Taine Paton, Tyson Dlangwana and Tevin Kok, plus Siya Nolutshungu and Nduduzo Peabo Lembethe.

Siya, Peabo and Tyson are currently involved in the five-Test series against Namibia at Northcliffe High School in Johannesburg.

The Maritzburg College first team were treated to a capping ceremony (feature image) ahead of the KZN Schools Hockey Festival and this included a virtual speech from 2018 head prefect and Sharks rugby player Ntuthuko Mchunu, such an inspiration in leading by example.

Then it was the turn of the Red Army Class of 2021 to tackle St Charles College first team in match 1 of the festival. A 2-0 victory was achieved, with the U16A team winning 4-0 and the U14A’s 2-0 against their Saints counterparts.


The scene across Maritzburg College’s Papes Astro on the morning of Day 2 of the festival and the Glenwood clash.


The morning session on Day 2 of the festival saw College effect another cleansweep across the three age-group tiers, accounting for Glenwood this time, with a 3-0 victory at first team level, the U16A’s winning 5-1 and the U14A’s to the tune of 3-0.

Possibly the most-anticipated round of the festival was the Day 2 afternoon session involving Maritzburg College and Hilton College. The Red Black and White’s first team shaded their Hilton counterparts 2-1; the U16A’s played to a 0-0 draw while the Maritzburg College U14A’s edged their Hilton opponents 3-2.

The morning session on the third and final day of the festival saw an extremely tight round of matches, the Red Army of Maritzburg College first team drawing 1-1 with Northwood; the U16A’s edging the Durban north lads 1-0 in another close affair, while the U14A clash saw another 1-0 win going the way of Maritzburg College.

The last round of festival fixtures for the trio of Maritzburg College teams was against Durban High School (DHS) and one result that really stands out is the DHS U14A side’s 4-0 win over the Red Black and White, while at first team level College won 3-1 with the U16A’s prevailing 1-0.

So the Maritzburg College U16A team came away from the festival with 4 wins and 1 draw; the U14A’s with 4 wins and 1 loss; and the first team with 4 wins and 1 draw.

And as the winter hockey year kicks on to what we all hope will be regular and unfettered matches over the term, it appears to be very clear that Maritzburg College director of hockey Robin Jones and his coaches across the ranks are ticking the right boxes with their players.


Maritzburg College director of hockey Robin Jones surveys his Papes Astro domain at a training session a few days ahead of the festival.


Ex-Clifton hockey ace Matt Lewis thriving Down Under

29 May 2020 – Matt Lewis was a standout, highly skilled, all-round performer for Clifton in 2018 when the school went through the hockey season unbeaten before losing their very last game of the season, which he missed through injury. His contributions on the field throughout his Clifton career were eye-catching and memorable, leaving many predicting a bright hockey future for him. That future, however, is not in South Africa, writes KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan.

In 2019, Matt and his family moved to Australia with one of the primary reasons being to give him a chance to pursue his hockey dream.

Thoughts of moving Down Under started in 2016 when he went to Brisbane for a school exchange. “I just loved the country and the quality of hockey that they play at and I thought that’s it, we have to move here,” he said.

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With his father, Terry, being an Australian citizen, and Matt a truly gifted hockey player, the family began to look into the possibility of the move. But grade 12 had to be dealt with first. “I wanted to finish school first as I felt matric was an important part of my life and I was extremely close with my friends,” Matt said.

“In 2019, the move began to Australia and my family is loving it here. My mom and I have just recently become permanent residents, which is awesome to have as there are so many benefits from it, and it gives us a sense of belonging here.”

Matt, who attended Clifton from grade R to matric, began playing hockey at the age of six at Riverside Hockey Club. It was the nature of team sport that captured his heart and a burning desire to win. “I have not looked back since,” he reckoned.

The foundation he received at Clifton was integral to his development, he said, citing very strong coaching from experienced coaches, which is “exactly what players want”. There was also a very important lesson to always be humble in striving for achievements.

At Clifton, Matt played in the first team from 2015 to 2018 and earned selection for the KZN Coastal and South African under-16 A teams in 2015 and 2016 and the KZN Coastal under-18 A side in 2018, when he was also chosen for the SA Schools B Team.

Missing from the above is 2017. That’s because Matt suffered a knee injury that needed surgery. It had been tough, but he wasn’t concerned that he would no longer be able to perform to the best of his ability. “I was more excited than ever to get back into hockey in 2018, I had absolutely no worry about my knee going into 2018 as I had done all the right rehab that would allow me to be 100 percent,” he said.

Inspirational captain leads Clifton basketball’s rise


Matt received the Hockey Player of the Year award from Clifton in 2018.

Blessed with good finishers and a gritty defence, Clifton put together a superb season under the guidance of coach Keegan Pearce, who Matt credited for helping him take his game to the next level.

They played 24 matches, won 20 of them, drew three and lost only their last game, when they had to play without goal scoring aces Matt and striker Declan Bradfield.

“The loss to Michaelhouse was a tough one to watch from the side line as I ruptured my ATFL ligament in an ankle,” Matt recalled.

But there were many highlights as the Clifton first team put up almost four goals a game on average, while conceding just less than one. Interestingly, during the season they played five schools twice – Saint Alban’s College, Uplands College, Saint Stithian’s College, Saint Andrew’s School, and Saint David’s Marist Inanda – and in every case won by a better margin the second time around, which showed progress and the ability to learn lessons from previous encounters.

Their three draws came against Cape Town powerhouse Bishops Diocesan College (1-1), a loaded Maritzburg College team (1-1) and Saint John’s College (2-2).

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Maritzburg College, as a long-standing national power, was always a game that brought the Clifton team extra motivation, said Matt. So a 1-1 draw in Pietermaritzburg was a good result. Saint Charles, which has a lot in common with Clifton, was another game that the team always got themselves up for, he added, while Northwood and the Durban north derby was also a big one.

“My most memorable match of 2018 would probably have to be the 2-1 win against Northwood as they had a good side and I had a lot of mates in their team, so it was nice to get one over them.”

In May 2018, he was interviewed by KZN10.com’s Jono Cook, with whom he shared one of his goals: “Winning gold at [the under-18] IPT is another goal on my mind as I feel we, as KZN Coastal, have a very strong team to do so.”

In a tournament that underlined the strength of hockey in the province, the final came down to a showdown between KZN Coastal and KZN Inland, with Coastal coming away with the win. Mission accomplished, goal achieved.

A tale of two teams: the victorious KZN Coastal team celebrates after defeating their rivals, KZN Inland, in the final of the Under-18 Interprovincial Tournament in Pietermaritzburg in 2018.

His most memorable match ever with Clifton, he revealed, had taken place in 2016 on an overseas tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, two of the leading hockey-playing nations in the world. There, Clifton made the final of an under-18 tournament, where they faced the Polish national team in a game which they lost after a penalty shootout. “I had never seen so many people watching the game. It was just unreal,” he said.

In matric, Matt was selected to represent South Africa in the Africa Youth Games, which was another highlight in a career that had already included many.

Clifton recognised Matt Lewis’ achievements in hockey when he shared the 2018 Sportsman of the Year Award with William Dowsett and Todd Howard, who represented South Africa in waterpolo.

“I was extremely fortunate enough to go to a school like Clifton and I encourage every boy at Clifton to make the most out of it and wear the badge proudly,” he said in a message for the Clifton family.

With matric completed, the Lewis family made the move to Perth, Western Australia, which is a hot bed of Australian hockey. Matt explained: “The hockey system in Australia is just on another level and it shows in the results that the Kookaburras [men’s national team] and Hockeyroos [women’s national team] have achieved over the years.

Indeed, the Kookaburras have long been one of the world’s great teams, compiling a superb record that includes being the three-time World Cup winners, one-time Olympic champs, three-time World League winners, champions of the Pro League last year, and 15-time winners of the Champions Trophy.

“All the men’s and women’s national players live in Perth, so that they can train together. This means that the clubs will receive national players based on how many draft picks they have. This allows the competition to be extremely strong as you play against some of the best players in the world every weekend.

“The school boy level in KZN is stronger than here because all the hockey is played at club level here.”

The standard of play that Matt Lewis is facing in Australia is reflected in this photo of him in action for Hale Hockey Club: Matt is in possession, about to take a shot, and the man on the right is Matt Swann, who is closing in on 200 caps for Australia.

The fact that the move to Perth, which is known for having a large community of South Africa expats, went smoothly was a great help. “I knew only a handful of people coming over, but my dad knew loads of people who were his mates from school. I can’t thank them enough for making our move so easy.”

A smooth transition was also aided by former South African goalie Dave Staniforth and Jamie Dwyer, who knew about the Lewis family’s move and Matt’s hockey prowess. Not bad when one of the greatest to ever play the game is there to help.

Matt plays for Hale Hockey Club, which is coached by Staniforth. Last year, they made it to the league final where they were beaten by WASPS Hockey Club. In 2019, he was also selected to play for the Western Australia under-21 team that finished third in the Inter-state Championships. Sadly, those have been called off this season.

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Another big feather in Matt’s cap was receiving an invitation to train at the Western Australian Institute of Sport where he got to spend time playing, training and conditioning with some of Australia’s best juniors.

Matt’s currently doing a Bachelor of Finance degree at Edith Cowan University, with his studies and hockey being his main focuses.

He has set his hockey aim high: “My long term goal is to one day play for the Kookaburras. It would be a dream come true as it has been a goal of mine for some time now.”

Matt Lewis on the run, taking the game to the opposition.


Clifton 7-1 Thomas More College
Clifton 9-1 Fourways High School
Clifton 6-1 DHS
Clifton 5-1 Saint Alban’s
Clifton 1-1 Bishops Diocesan College
Clifton 4-1 Uplands College
Clifton 3-2 Saint David’s Marist Inanda
Clifton 5-0 Saint Stithian’s College
Clifton 2-2 Saint John’s College
Clifton 5-0 Uplands College
Clifton 3-1 Nelspruit
Clifton 4-2 Saint Andrew’s School
Clifton 3-0 Saint Alban’s
Clifton 7-1 Trinity House
Clifton 2-0 Crawford College La Lucia
Clifton 4-1 Saint Charles College
Clifton 3-0 Glenwood
Clifton 2-1 Northwood
Clifton 1-1 Maritzburg College
Clifton 5-1 Saint Andrew’s School
Clifton 7-1 Saint Stithian’s College
Clifton 1-0 Helpmekaar
Clifton 3-1 Saint David’s Marist Inanda
Clifton 1-2 Michaelhouse

Played 24, won 20, drew 3, lost 1, goals for 93, goals against 22

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Thoughts on a lost season: Westville hockey star Ethan Matkovich

8 May 2020 – The Covid-19 lockdown has been a shocking blow from the viewpoint of winter sports in schools, especially for learners in matric, set for one last hurrah, as the stars of their various teams, writes KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan. For Westville Boys’ High hockey captain, Ethan Matkovich, it’s meant missing out on an opportunity to follow up on a brilliant 2019 season, both individually and from the standpoint of the side.

Last year, Westville went undefeated, beating some of the top teams in the country, including Jeppe, whom many had considered to be number one before they met the KZN side, giving Westville a legitimate claim to the top spot.

Although he was in grade 11 at the time, Ethan was one of the key players in the Westville line-up, which was reflected in his selection for the KZN Coastal team and then the SA under-18 hockey squad.

Just before the lockdown began, that achievement was recognised when Ethan received his merit tie [a level above an honours’ award, given to boys who receive national honours] from Westville, along with Luke James (SA gymnastics) and Troy Botha (SA softball).

Westville vs Kearsney match report 2019


Westville vs Hilton match report 2019


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There was uncertainty when schools closed early as to what it would mean for the winter sports’ season. Now, sadly, it has become clear: all schools’ hockey and rugby matches and inter-provincial tournaments have been cancelled.

“It is obviously something no one expected, or even thought this could ever happen. It is really tough,” Ethan said on Thursday.

“I think of all the build-up that we did, and all the training from last year that we haven’t been able to use. It’s a big shock for everybody. I was certainly expecting a lot of big things this year. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out and we’ve just got to try and find a way forward.”

Cleaning things up at the back, Westville hockey captain and centre half, Ethan Matkovich.

“It has been quite frustrating,” Director of Hockey, Cameron Mackay, said in a phone call. “I think it is more frustrating for the boys, especially for the matric boys who have gone through five years, always waiting for their matric year.

“Hopefully we can do something for the boys before the end of the year. It has been frustrating to be unable to do anything. I like to get onto the turf as much as possible, so it’s been tough.”

“There’s a couple of guys who have been in the system for a number of years. Keegan McCallum was injured last year, so he didn’t get to IPT, so this was his year to make up for that, but it’s tough because the guys have worked hard to get fit and get to where they are.”

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There were many fans of hockey who were looking forward to seeing Westville in action this season, and they were not just supporters of the school. After their outstanding exploits of 2019, many wanted to see what kind of follow-up Westville would produce.

Mackay explained the make-up of the 2020 team: “We lost quite a few matrics from last year, but we still had Ethan. Our back four and goalkeeper were all gone, except for Ethan, then we kept two of our three starting midfielders, and we still had half of the forwards. We lost quite a few guys, but the grade tens coming through are quite decent as well. We had a good side for this year.”

It is worth noting the strength in midfield and up front because if there is one shortcoming in South African hockey, generally speaking, it is finishing. Then, having a general at the back, controlling matters, like Ethan Matkovich, goes a long way to providing a reliable and effective defensive unit.

“We have always had a philosophy at Westville of managing our back four the best we possibly can,” Mackay said, “and creating that platform first and then going forward from there. It’s been a good system in the last few years.

Always calm and composed, and a leader, Ethan Matkovich.

“A guy like Ethan is a blessing. He is just so controlled at the back. He controls the tempo of the game and he has a really good head on his shoulders.

“He keeps it simple and does the simple stuff better than anyone else, which is quite a strange thing to see in schoolboy hockey. You look for that at under-21 level, sometimes not even then. He has the maturity of a man at the back, which is cool.”

For Ethan, it is about leadership. He’s been a captain throughout his school career, in every team he has played in, excepting when he made teams as a player a year younger than the other boys.

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Captaincy has always been a positive force in his sporting achievements, he said: I think it helps my game. It gives me more responsibility, which means I can’t lower my standards. I enjoy it.”

Like Westville’s approach to hockey, his leadership style is not flashy, it’s more of a blue-collar thing, getting down to work and setting the example. The word that keeps coming up is “simple”.

“We just have to keep things simple. The simple things are most often the things that win you games. Always work hard. You can’t beat hard work.

“We know, as Westville, we don’t have those flashy players and the ‘best players’, but we, as a team, will work harder than anyone else. We’re happy to play our way and do the hard work. If we win by one or we win by 10, we’re still winning the game.”

The Westville 1st XI of 2019 celebrate an undefeated season after a 3-1 victory over Kearsney College. Ethan Matkovich is on the left. (Photo: Highway Mail, https://highwaymail.co.za/)

That outlook is reflected in coach Cameron Mackay’s overall programme for Westville hockey. “We’ve set quite a good platform for ourselves where the kids are learning the same thing from grade eight,” he said.

“We might not always get the best kids [talent] in the province. We get a good type of kid, hard workers. We get good hockey players, too. But then you also have good cricketers who are good at hockey, and good soccer players who are good at hockey.”

“We have good depth, and we end up with kids who maybe didn’t come to Westville as hockey players, but they end up loving the sport.

“We set out a programme a few years ago – Sharmin Naidoo and I – where we put together a full programme that we wanted the boys to learn from under-14 to under-18, so all of our coaches spoke the same language. We kept it as simple as possible and we tried to make the philosophy that we will just do the basics better than anyone else, as opposed to trying to be really flamboyant and doing different things while allowing our coaches to do their own thing. I think that has been our biggest strength.”

In action in the famous black and white of the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal team.

It’s a no-frills approach, but it works very well. Ethan said: “Hard work is key. We hear from other players, at provincial tournaments, or at provincial training, they say they are a little intimidated to play us. Not because of the fancy stuff we do, but because we are always pressing and coming at them hard. I think that is shown in all aspects of the school. In academics, we generally have people in the top 10 percent of the province. In all sports, we generally have a group of boys performing at the top provincial level.”

As far as hockey is concerned, since Ethan has been at Westville Boys’ High (having attended Westville Pre-Primary, Westville Junior Primary, and Westville Senior Primary) the school has always been a top 10 team in South Africa. While he might not have the opportunity to continue that superb record this season with the school, there is at least some light on the hockey horizon for him.

Ethan is a member of the national under-18 squad and had been set to play for the side at the under-21 Inter-Provincial Tournament (IPT) this year. That opportunity has passed, but there is still a big event set for next year.

“We received an email the other day [from the South African Hockey Association], saying that for the under-18 squad they’re going to try and create contact time between the squad and the staff of those groups. They’ll try and do some video calls and mental training, speaking about a way forward.

“The Junior World Cup happens at the end of next year and hopefully a few of us will be able to go on that tour. They’re trying to be proactive, to connect with us, and making sure we’re okay. I assume they’re going to be doing this soon and showing us a way forward.”

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The Westville hockey team, meanwhile, has not been idle. “We are trying to stay positive as a group,” Ethan said. “We are doing some fitness challenges and posting them on our WhatsApp group. Obviously everyone is hurting from this.

“We do simple stuff, like seeing how many push-ups you can do in a certain amount of time, a few silly things like that to keep us going.”

Besides being an outstanding hockey player, Ethan is also a top cricketer and has received his provincial colours in the sport. He is, naturally, captain of Westville, a player with a good head on his shoulders, and a composed batsman who plays with enviable fluency.

Ethan Matkovich on his way to an unbeaten fifty, which saw Westville to a hard-fought victory over DHS in the first term. (Photo: Brad Morgan)

The first term, he admitted, was an up and down time for the 1st XI, a very talented side on paper which, too often, found different players firing at different times and seldom together. In some games the bowling was on song, in others it was the batting, but, as happens in cricket, form can be a fleeting thing and the margins between winning and losing can be extremely fine.

Ethan was at his unruffled best in a win over DHS, leading his team from 50 for 5, chasing 146 to win, to victory without the loss of another wicket on a pitch that had some turn and an outfield that was very heavy, a fact that was reflected in the DHS innings which produced only two fours.

“We had a really good side on paper, but we battled to win the key moments in games,” Ethan said. But, with only four matric boys in the line-up, Westville was always a competitive team, which suggests good things are on the horizon, with lessons learnt from a challenging season set to become valuable assets. And the example set by the skipper is one of the biggest among them.

One thing that one can be pretty sure about, Ethan Matkovich will continue to lead, in good times, in bad times, when challenges are fun, when challenges are daunting, even in this unprecedented time. With that approach, whether the hockey season or any semblance of one happens this year, it is surely not the last we will hear about his sporting exploits.

Hilton down Glenwood in the Durban heat

The Glenwood and Hilton College 1st hockey teams engaged in an entertaining clash in very hot conditions on the Three Schools’ Trust Turf in Durban on Saturday, reports KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan.

(Due to a lack of numbers to go with the players’ names from one side and numbers that did not align with the players from the other on the team sheets, I am unable to identify the players by name, which is unfortunate.)

The sides started out rather cautiously, with both employing a half-court press. Hilton, though, sent their attackers a little higher and wider up the field, which allowed them to stretch the Glenwood defenders out enough to create slightly more space. This also allowed them to enjoy the majority of the possession in the first half.

Hockey 2019: Hilton vs Michaelhouse derby


Hockey 2019: Clifton vs Hilton match report


Hockey 2019: Hilton vs Westville match report


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Midfield was a battleground, with both sides doing a good job of closing down the receivers in that area of the field. Both coaches would surely have liked to see a quicker transition of the ball when it reached the middle of the park, but Hilton did manage to muster some opportunities while keeping Glenwood pinned in their half.

In the early going, matters were very tight in the midfield, with both sides putting the other’s ball-carriers under heavy pressure. (All photos: Brad Morgan, KZN10.com)

It took a while, but Hilton, on the balance of play, took a deserved lead, thanks to a swift counter after what until that point was a rare Glenwood attack. They exited from their 16 quickly and let the ball go to the right wing, who, given plenty of open field in which to attack, ran hard at the scrambling Glenwood defence.

Cleverly, as he cut in near the circle, instead of trying to dribble the covering defender, he simply flipped the ball past him, pinned his ears back and chased it. Another Glenwood defender was flying across towards the near-side post, but the Hilton man got there first, diving to knock a square ball across to the striker, who managed to get stick to ball a fraction of a second before the Glenwood ‘keeper, who had laid out to try to reach it.

The ball flew high and sweetly into the back of the net and Hilton were in the lead.

Hilton College score the opening goal as their striker knocks the ball past a despairing dive from the Glenwood goalkeeper. 

While it was mostly about Hilton in the opening stanza, Glenwood showed flashes up front on the counter-attack, causing a problem or two for the Hilton defence, which was, for the most part, solid.

The match opened up after the break. Interestingly, Hilton had changed their defensive approach and were pressuring Glenwood higher up the field, which meant the game was no longer as compact as it had been and thus there was more space to work in.

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It was similar, though, in the fact that Hilton were enjoying the majority of the ball possession.

But Glenwood then made good use of the more open play. They launched a quick counter down the left wing after turning over possession and were duly rewarded when they found a foot in the Hilton circle.

The home team’s industry at last paid off when they scored off of a drag flick that had some serious heat behind it, making the score 1-1.

Glenwood showed no shortage of skill in the midfield, but a well-organised Hilton team, for the most part, kept them at bay.

They barely had time to celebrate that goal, however, as Hilton hit back quickly. They attacked down the right flank, this time carrying the ball along the baseline, which drew the goalkeeper to cover his post. When the ball was slipped back, the goalie was beaten and the Hilton striker had a tap-in for the second goal of the game.

Goal number two for Hilton was a simple tap-in after a sharp attack down the Glenwood baseline opened up the chance for the striker to grab a brace.

The third goal, which truly broke the contest open, came from a penalty corner awarded to Hilton.

At previous penalty corners, they had come close to adding to their tally off of a couple of variations, but all it took in the end was a straight shot. Rob Haynes let rip and the Glenwood goalie was unable to get his gloves together in time, just to his right, to stop the ball from crossing the line.

Glenwood threw themselves onto the attack as time wound down, asking questions of the Hilton backline, but the boys from the Midlands had the answers they needed and came away with a hard-fought 3-1 win.