Balmoral hockey star in the Netherlands
Balmoral Girls’ Primary School pupil Jana Labuschagne did her school proud after she was selected for a team to visit the Netherlands at the Elsie Coetzer Hockey School (ECHS) festival in Bloemfontein recently.
The team was trained by former England and Great Britain goalkeeper Madeleine Hinch during the tour.
According to Labuschagne, during the festival a team of boys and girls from the age groups of under-13, U14, U16 and U19 was selected to represent South Africa.
She went with her school to Bloemfontein to compete in the festival and could not believe it when she was selected.
“We landed in Amsterdam and also played one-day tournaments in Rotterdam and Utrecht, and the matches were followed by training sessions. The standard of hockey teams we played against was mind-blowing.”
She said the SA hockey players also watched two premier league matches with teams playing on top-quality, water-based astro turfs.
“The ball absolutely flies, they play so fast you end up not seeing the ball. It made me aspire to be a top hockey player some day,” Labuschagne said.
She also met her hockey role model, Hinch.
“I learnt a lot of different things like how to slide, how to stop a flicking ball and how to stop a ball by jumping.
“I intend to be an international hockey player and I will also attend the ECHS hockey clinic which will be in Bloemfontein,” Jana said.
She said her trip to the Netherlands was a wonderful experience of different cultures and having her parents on the tour and making friends in the national squad and abroad, was amazing.
“We did not expect that Jana would make it,” her mom Heather said. “There were about 3,800 children at the festival in Bloemfontein, so you do not think your daughter will be chosen.
“When I heard the news, I could not sleep.
“Going to the Netherlands was a wonderful lifetime opportunity, but SA is in my blood. People said we should relocate, but I said no.
“I lived in Qolorha, seeing South Africans and eating steak when we got home was precious to me.”
GIVING IT STICK: Balmoral Girls’ Primary School pupil Jana Labuschagne, left, made Komani proud competing in hockey tournaments in Netherlands while being trained by former England hockey goalkeeper Madeleine Hinch