University of Johannesburg hockey star Gareth Heyns has achieved one of the major goals in his career by being selected for the national squad to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month.
The 26-year-old marketing student, who is doing his masters this year, said it was a privilege to have a chance of competing in a tournament of this status.
“I have played [for SA] before but I always thought that if I could compete on a stage like this it would be the ultimate reward,” he said. “It’s been one of my major goals.
“I really didn’t think it was something that would happen, so when I found out I was going it was one of the happiest moments of my life.”
The UJ star said they would face a tough challenge on the Gold Coast next month, but added they were keen to prove themselves.
“We have a group of guys pushing for chances all the time and it keeps everyone on their toes, training to be the best we can.”
He said South Africa did not have a chance to play the same number of matches as their rivals in the build-up, but they were training hard to ensure they were in the right shape.
“We are also trying to build towards something bigger for aspiring players, so it would be nice to set a platform for the guys coming through where they can carry on competing on this stage.”
Having grown up in Primrose in Johannesburg, where he still lives, Heyns took up the game of hockey when he was 12.
“The only reason I started was because of my brother, Kyle. He was at Jeppe High and I pretty much followed everything he did.”
Heyns, who was educated at Bedfordview Primary and Jeppe High, said his parents instilled in them an attitude of always being the best they could be.
“That has always stuck with me,” he added.
While his family and friends are his staunchest supporters, Heyns also paid tribute to UJ coach Garreth Ewing, under whose tutelage he has been playing since he was 15.
“He has been a big part of my progression as a player and a person. His input has helped me develop and understand the game in a different way.”