KZN Inland U21 women's hockey team coach Sihle Ntuli with captain Lana Kruger (left) and vice-captain Amy Greaves at Queensmead in Durban last week.
KZN Inland U21 women's hockey team coach Sihle Ntuli with captain Lana Kruger (left) and vice-captain Amy Greaves at Queensmead in Durban last week.
(Photo: Lynn Walraven)

A hockey player and coach on the up and up in South Africa is 24 year old University of KwaZulu-Natal marketing and media student Sihle Ntuli. FIH.CH's Africa correspondent Jonathan Cook reports about an talented and ambitious young man who is making big waves.

Fresh from piloting the KwaZulu-Natal Inland Under-21 team to sixth place at the South African National Championship at Queensmead Hockey Stadium in Durban – an improvement of five places on last year – the former South Africa U18 striker who now plays for the KZN Inland senior team spoke about his career and aspirations.

“My goal as a player is to make the SA senior side and I’m trying to make a breakthrough at the next opportunity”, says the Thomas More College product who made the SA U21 team first year out of school, as a 19-year-old against Pakistan U21 in Durban.

A desire to pursue his studies brought the twice winner of the National Senior Championship with the KZN Coastal Raiders 80 kilometres up the N3 highway to Pietermaritzburg, where he was third-top goalscorer at the 2012 SA Seniors in his debut season for KZN Inland.

“I started playing hockey aged seven as it was very similar tactically to football, I sport I really enjoy, and it is also an exceptionally skilful game that always poses challenges no matter how long you have been playing with stick and ball.”

But that’s not the only arrow in the striker’s quiver.

“I am also very ambitious as a coach. If not playing, I still want to be around the pitch,” says the former director of hockey at St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls in Kloof, just outside Durban, who has a prestigious SA National Level Two coaching qualification. “What I love about coaching is the satisfaction of seeing the growth in the players and teams I work with,” says Ntuli, who has also plied his trade as a player and coach in Europe.

The man with a natural affinity for goalscoring who has played striker throughout his young career, now turns out for the UKZN Pietermaritzburg first team and coaches the UKZN women’s side. 

A non-travelling reserve for the SA U21 team that played at the 2009 Junior World Cup in Malaysia and Singapore, Ntuli coached the KZN Coastal Raiders U18 girls’ team and the Raiders U18 boys’ team during the 2010/2011 seasons and his passion for the game sets the perfect platform for a long and distinguished career both on the field and on the sidelines.

Durban’s loss is undoubtedly the KwaZulu-Natal capital’s gain.

Do you have an interesting African hockey story that you want to tell us about? If so, please contact Jonathan Cook on: joncookroy@gmail.com