Hockey guns for Tokyo

Women's team to take on Spain, Belarus and Canada in qualifiers

13 June 2019 | Sports

The Namibia senior women's field hockey team is gearing up to take on Spain, Belarus and Canada in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Series Finals in Valencia, Spain.

With the competition lined up from 19 to 27 June, the team has to pull out all the stops and will face tough competition as they battle to secure a path to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Namibia, rated 42nd in the world, are the lowest ranked in their group.

They will play their first match against Belarus (ranked 20th) on 19 June. Their second match will be against Canada (ranked 21st) on 21 June and the last match will be against hosts Spain (ranked 7th).

The Namibians, who were Africa's sole representatives at last year's Indoor Hockey World Cup in Germany and who performed above par before exiting, will enter the qualifiers as underdogs, with South Africa having a much better ranking (15th) than them.

South Africa are in Pool B with Italy, (ranked 17th), Thailand (28th) and Wales (27th). Two countries from each group will qualify for the Olympics.

At the national colours handover ceremony yesterday, Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) chief administrator Freddy Mwiya sang the praises of the hockey team, saying they have become a force to be reckoned with.

“When we send you somewhere, we know you are going to compete and not participate like some sports codes. They qualify, participate and return without winning, but we know that with hockey, they return with something,” said Mwiya.

He further urged the players to compete with pride and dignity. “Make sure you compete without worries about finance issues. We will pay for everything,” Mwiya boasted. He said all monies should be accounted for and that a feedback report should be handed in when the team returns.

Groups A and B will involve some of the best emerging hockey teams in the world.

The Namibian squad is as follows: Magreth Mengo (captain), Petro Stoffberg, Jerrica Bartlett, Sunelle Ludwig, Gillian Hermanus, Kiana-Che Cormack, Dure Boshoff, Taramarie Myburgh, Danja Meyer, Cele Wessels, Berencia Diamond, Jahntwa Kruger, Emilia Kashopola, Ina Louis, Joane van Rooyen, Armin van Staden, Jocelle Deysell, and Jivanka Kruger.

Non-travelling reserves: Amber Dercksen and Vicky Stiemert.

Coaching staff: Erwin Handura (coach), Rachel Freeman (manager), Randolf Slabbert (assistant coach), Manuel Carballo (fitness and mental health), Donatha Ngunovandu (team medic) and Maryke Short (video analyst).