Kenan Classen. (Shannon Gilson)
Quintin van Jaarsveld
Four players from Paddock Polocrosse Club have been selected to represent South Africa in international matches against Australia in Port Elizabeth in July.
Amber Pretorius have been included in the South African Under-21 side, while Paige Pretorius, Kenan Classen and Jens Bunge will feature for the national Under-16 side.
The quartet were rewarded with national call-ups after impressing selectors during the recent Junior Classic in Mooi River and all boast prior international experience.
Since being introduced to polocrosse in 2010, Amber has established herself as one of the country’s top junior players. She announced herself on a tour of Ireland where she was named the South African Player of the Tournament and was the country’s best Under-16 player at the 2014 inter-provincial tournament in Port Elizabeth.
At 18 years of age, the KwaZulu-Natal and Midlands mainstay is now set to make the leap to Under-21 level.
“I was honestly surprised because I was stressing about making the Under-19 side but then it turned out I was pushed up into the Under-21 side,” she told eHowzit.
Her passion for polocrosse has been the key to her success.
“I enjoy being able to spend time with special friends you make in this social sport. It’s healthy and great fun. What you put in is what you get out, so it’s very rewarding. Most of all, the horses themselves are magnificent creatures.”
Her sister Paige and clubmates Kenan and Jens toured Zimbabwe as members of a South African Under-14 invitational team last year and are all relishing representing the country again.
“I feel very honoured and privileged,” Paige said. “I’m so excited. Playing for South Africa ups my game and gives me inspiration to play harder.”
The 15-year-old shares her sister’s love for the sport. “I enjoy the passion that everyone has about the sport and the way it’s so competitive.”
Kenan played in his first tournament in 2012 and has already racked up a number of accolades at provincial and national level.
He was named Best Gentleman Under-14 Player on his maiden international tour in Zimbabwe in 2014 and was last year crowned the Bombers Trick-Stick Boys Under-19 Champion and named Best number three in the D Division at the South African Championships and acknowledged as the Best Junior Player at the KwaZulu-Natal Championships.
“I feel honoured to have been selected to represent South Africa at Under-16 level and I’m grateful for this opportunity to prove myself as a South African polocrosse player,” the 15-year-old said.
Jens, 14, took up the sport when he was nine and has represented Midlands at the inter-provincial tournament since 2012, winning his age-group title on two occasions.
“I’m very proud and excited to be chosen to play for our country in such an awesome team,” he said. “Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped me to get this far. I’m really looking forward to the tour.”