Women’s ice hockey squad set for world champs

Western Province and South Africas Zoe Herringer, right, goes into defensive mode in a training game against a select under-18 boys team in Gauteng. The game was part of the national team training camp this past weekend at the Festival Mall Ice Rink in Kempton Park.

Picture: Marcel Meijer Photography

Following the tournament, four members of the Western Province Ice Hockey team were named in the South African team which will travel to Sofia, Bulgaria, for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships (Division 2, Group B) from Monday to Saturday, December 4 to 9.

Goodwood’s Zoe Herringer will receive her first national cap when she takes to the ice in Bulgaria.

Herringer’s elevation to national honours is the stuff dreams are made of as she has only been involved in ice-hockey for the past 18 months.

Having been a figure skater for eight years (she started at age seven), Zoe has always had a love for ice sports. A field hockey player at JG Meiring High School, she was looking to try her hand at something new.

“I simply merged what I was already doing, an ice sport and field hockey, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history,” she said.

Zoe clearly took to ice hockey like a seal to the water as she received her call-up to the national women’s hockey team a mere year and a half after taking to the ice, swapping the leggings and tight-fitting costume of figure skating for the heavily padded ice-hockey uniform.

The Grade 10 pupil at JG Meiring says it requires good time management to play ice hockey while still at school.

“We train on Sundays and Thursdays, with morning sessions from 5am until 7am. We have to train this early as the only ice-rink in Cape Town is a public facility located at the GrandWest Casino, and we have to complete our training before the rink opens to the public,” she said.

Zoe plays for the Penguins Club, where she is coached by Mark Giot.

There are only two ice hockey clubs in Cape Town, the Penguins as well as Storm, and it is not uncommon to see mixed (men and women) teams playing each other.

Ice hockey in Cape Town finds itself in a catch-22 situation: it only has two clubs who play at the only ice rink in the region.

Zoe believes that this is why media coverage of ice hockey is few and far between.

“If we can get more exposure for the sport, we may be able to get more young people involved, which could eventually lead to a bigger league and who knows, possibly more facilities in the future,” she said.

The teenager will join Muizenberg’s Shaylene Swanepoel, the number one ranked goalkeeper in SA; Pinelands’ Donne van Doesburgh, the current national captain; and the experienced Nadine Sheffield from Fish Hoek, a former SA captain, who will play in her twelfth world championships.

Western Province Ice Hockey, despite its size, is clearly doing something right as they also contributed seven and eight players respectively to two more national squads.

Ethan Saaiman, JP Smith, Matthew Cleinwerk, Keanu Nel, Jethro Durant, Daanyal Kamish and Luke Vivier will represent SA at the Under-18 IIHF World Championships (Division 3, Group B) in Queenstown, New Zealand, in April next year.

Elsewhere, JP Britz, Matthew Cerff, Dario Maselli, Aslam Khan, Sky Johnson, Caleb Joshua, James Taljaard and Luke Vivier will play for SA at the Under-20 IIHF World Championships (Division 3 Qualification) in Cape Town in February next year.

The WP senior women contingent on Sunday returned from Kempton Park where they attended their final training camp with SA coach Andre Marais before they leave for Bulgaria on Tuesday November 28.

“Not only will this be my first national cap, but it will also be my first international trip.

“The opportunity to represent SA internationally hasn’t quite sunk in, but I’m sure the excitement will kick in the closer we get to departure,” said Zoe.

All the members of the national team are responsible for their own expenses of around R18 000, per athlete including flights, uniforms and visas, among others.

They are therefore involved in individual fund-raising initiatives like selling raffle tickets and raising personal sponsorships.

For more information on how you can assist, call Nadine Sheffield at 072 596 7435.