Quintin van Jaarsveld
The Pro Series Indoor (PSi) South Coast Hockey League returned with a bang when it produced three thrilling days of action from Saturday to Monday at Port Shepstone High School.
After being introduced to the PSi phenomenon last year, local players relished the return of this form of hockey, in which teams play 26-minute matches with a two-minute half-time and two-minute turnaround between games.
Streamlined from last year’s four-week format to three consecutive days, the Under-13 to Under-18 league was the trial for South Coast Marlins places for the PSi Nationals in Cape Town in December.
While many players who represented the Marlins last year were unavailable due to KwaZulu-Natal Coastals duties or being away on holiday, some 60 new and familiar faces participated in the league.
“The standard of hockey has increased tremendously since last year and it was awesome to see players in the junior age groups practicing their skills and trying new things during the games,” ex-local and South Coast Marlins franchise owner, Dale Esselaar, told eHowzit.
“Judging by the standard of hockey, we should comfortably be able to send eight teams to nationals again this year.
“We could possibly even send two more teams than last year if all the players make themselves available, which isn’t always the case as a result of the high costs involved,” added Esselaar, who serves as coach of the Eastern Province Under-18 A-team at the Inter-Provincial Tournament at Kearsney this week.
Esselaar said the provincial players that were unable to attend the league have made themselves available for the Nationals and that the final squads will be confirmed at the end of the month once all the players/parents have confirmed their availability for the national showpiece.