Balmoral hockey star in the Nether­lands

The Rep - - SPORT -

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

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