Paddock polocrosse star helps team clinch SA Club Champs title

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Quintin van Jaarsveld

At just 16 years of age, Kenan Classen lifted the most coveted silverware in South African polocrosse when the Nyati/Paddock A team won the national club championships at Bethal Polocrosse Club, Mpumalanga last weekend.

A total of 21 teams from across the country participated in the two-day tournament, which followed a round-robin format with each team competing in two games on Saturday and one game on Sunday.

Classen was the only Paddock Polocrosse Club player who participated in this year’s national showpiece and did his club proud by helping his side clinch the illustrious Channey Cup.

The Oribi Gorge-based teenager and fellow rising star Keighley van Wyk had the honour of playing alongside 2015 Polocrosse World Cup winner and Player of the Tournament, Graham MacLarty, who captained the team.

The talented trio were never really troubled, winning their opening match 24-9 against Walkerville, beating Bishopstowe 22-12 and seeing off Shonweni 20-14 in the A Division final.

Kenan Claasen chases Walkerville's Ross Beukes. (Russel James)

Kenan Claasen chases Walkerville’s Ross Beukes. (Russel James)

“I feel honoured to have been asked to play in the Nyati team and win SA Champs. It’s one of the greatest accomplishments of my career so far,” Classen, who took up the sport in 2012, told eHowzit.

Classen, whose handicap recently improved to four, played two and three in the first game and two in the remaining matches on his horse, iNkanyezi.

“It was a fantastic tournament overall and I was extremely proud to represent Paddock. Like all sportsmen, I was a bit nervous for the first game but after that I felt more confident,” he said.

Classen, who was the Bombers Trick-Stick Boys Under-19 Champion and named Best number three in the D Division in last year’s South African Club Championships, has taken his game to another level this year.

As eHowzit reported, he captained the South African Under-16 side – which included Paddock stablemates Paige Pretorius and Jens Bunge – in the junior international test series against Australia in Port Elizabeth in July.

He said the experience he gained in the three-match series – in which iNkanyezi won the Golden Pony prize – and in the Durban High Goal Tournament in May helped him to stay composed in the national club championships.

Classen credited his training under the MacLarty family as the key to his development over the past 12 months.

“It has been an awesome year of polocrosse for me with great opportunities to learn and grow as a player,” he said.

“After last year’s SA Champs, the MacLarty family took me under their wing and I’ve been spending most of my time up there learning more about the game. My riding has improved with Beth MacLarty’s help and my polocrosse game has improved thanks to Bruce and Graham MacLarty.

“I spend most of my days on or around horses and work on my stick work whenever possible. I’d like to thank the MacLarty family for their coaching and opportunities they gave me as well as my family and Paddock club for their support and encouragement.”

Sharing that winning feeling are (from left) Bruce MacLarty (SA 2015 Word Cup coach), Sarah van Wyk, Charles van Wyk, Keighley van Wyk (SA U16), Graham MacLarty (SA U16 team coach and 2015 World Cup winner), Kenan Classen (SA U16) and Stef Harris (SA U21).

Sharing that winning feeling are (from left) Bruce MacLarty (SA 2015 Word Cup coach), Sarah van Wyk, Charles van Wyk, Keighley van Wyk (SA U16), Graham MacLarty (SA U16 team coach and 2015 World Cup winner), Kenan Classen (SA U16) and Stef Harris (SA U21).

MacLarty praised both Classen and Van Wyk, saying, “It’s always great to win, especially when you have two junior Under-16 polocrosse players in the team – Keighley van Wyk and Kenan Claasen. This was a really great experience for them and we were lucky to have them.”

MacLarty added, “SA Champs was a very enjoyable tournament. Bethal Polocrosse Club did a fantastic job with the overall organisation as well as ensuring we had magnificent fields.”

Polocrosse Association of South Africa president Hannes van Aswegen commented, “It was a really great event and, despite the sweltering heat, the horses were in good form.

“There was a fantastic team spirit and camaraderie that makes polocrosse such an enjoyable sport. The teams were also very evenly matched which made for some exciting polocrosse action.

“We were also delighted with the number of juniors that competed this year, with the youngest being six years old. It’s great to see the passion for the sport starting with the next generation.

“We are looking forward to another great club camps event which will be taking place in KwaZulu-Natal next year, in the last weekend of August.”

SA Club Championships Results:

A Division Championship                Channey Cup                                               Nyati/Paddock A
A Division Handicap                         Mortimer Motors Trophy                             Bishopstowe/Umvoti A
B Division Championship                Ivan Gifford Trophy                                      Bethal A
B Division Handicap                         Gromor Tray                                                  Kentucky A
C Division Championship                Kyalami Floating Trophy                            Hilton/ Shongweni B
C Division Handicap                         Kathleen Young Trophy                              Walkerville B
D Division Championship                Gromor Trophy                                             Bethal B
D Division Handicap                         Doc Sinclair Trophy                                     Limpopo B
E Division Championship                Curtis Cup                                                      Bethal C
E Division Handicap                         Dorita Neidman Trophy                               Junior Rovers A

Robin Sparks Memorial Trophy for Horse and Rider: Elri van der Merwe on Dublin
Paul Oldfield Memorial Trophy for Most Worthy No 3: Patrick O’Sullivan
Hullett Aluminium Trophy for Player Development: Port Elizabeth
Robbie Odell Memorial for most goals scored in a chukka in A Division: Stefan Harris
Farmers Weekly Umpire of the Year: Emma Hall
George Rautenbach Memorial Player of the Year: Ross Beukes
Bomber Nel Trophy
Best Junior and Horse: Zach Hooper

SA teams:

Ladies’ Side                                                                        Men’s Side
Jean Hackland                                                                    Stef Harris
Celicia Jacobs                                                                     Graham MacLarty
Dawnay Jacobs                                                                   Travis Timm
Caley Higgs                                                                         Jan Albert Steenkamp
Leigh Higgs                                                                          Retief Steenkamp
Natalie MacLarty                                                                  Attie van Wyk
Elri van der Merwe                                                              Nico van Wyk
Reserve: Jacquie Minnaar                                                Reserve: Scott Hosking

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