The Madibaz premier league men’s and women’s hockey teams made it a double for the club by winning the Eastern Province premier league titles this year.
In a special year for the club, the Nelson Mandela University teams added to their trophy cabinet by taking the premier league Knockout competitions.
The men won the league for the fifth straight time, with their fitness playing a key part in their success.
“I believe our superior fitness and conditioning made a big difference when we faced the other clubs,” said Madibaz Sport hockey manager and coach Cheslyn Gie.
“We were often able to finish as the stronger team in the fourth quarter.”
Losing only one league match during the season, the Nelson Mandela University team drew two other games and won a total of 11 fixtures.
While their main focus each year is on the University Sport South Africa tournament, Gie said the league was also a significant challenge.
“It shows that our hockey is currently in a healthy state and our aim going forward is to continue this momentum.”
With teamwork being a strong ethos in their planning, Gie said several players stood out during the season.
“Our captain, Alex Penhall, led our defence extremely well and vice-captain Chad Cairncross scored some vital penalty corners.
“Jared de Kock has come on in leaps and bounds and played in the Premier Hockey League for the Addo Elephants, while Ignatius Malgraff was outstanding as usual.
“In addition, goalkeeper Eddie Ramohahle had a solid season.”
Madibaz women’s coach Andrew Beynon said the double triumph this year was reward for some hard work following a tough start to their programme.
“With 12 first-years in the squad we always knew Varsity Hockey [in May] was going to be a major challenge,” he said.
“But we had a strong finish to USSA [the University Sport South Africa week] last year and realised that it was a case of building for the future.
“So for us to go through the league season unbeaten with a good, but young, squad was a big positive for us.”
He acknowledged the tough competition they received from teams such as Gelvan Tornados and Uitenhage.
“Those were always hard games and a lot of credit must go to those clubs.”
He recognised the contribution of skipper Hannah Knott-Craig.
“She was immense, helping to gel the senior players with the young members in the squad.
“It was also fitting to give former captain Lauren Nina, who has played such a big role in Madibaz hockey, a special send-off in her final year.”