Fortunate Mnikathi, Marike Durrheim and Kerry Herbert.
By Quintin van Jaarsveld
Marike Durrheim, Kerry Herbert and Fortunate Mnikathi earned higher honours and individual accolades after starring for the KwaZulu-Natal coastal ladies hockey team at the South African Country Districts Tournament that concluded in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Port Shepstone Hockey Club trio were the standout players for the coastal side – who finished seventh – and were rewarded for their form, Durrheim and Herbert named non-travelling reserves for the South African Country Districts team and Mnikathi selected for the South African Country Districts B team.
What’s more, Herbert was acknowledged as the KwaZulu-Natal coastals Player of the Tournament, while the multi-talented Durrheim scooped the Umpire of the Tournament award.
“I am over the moon,” Durrheim, who served as vice-captain of the team, said of her selection as a non-travelling reserve for the national country districts side. “I really worked hard, so when it gets recognised it makes all the muscle pains and early morning training sessions worthwhile.
“It was a fantastic tournament; our team gelled together and the level of hockey was awesome. We played our hearts out…each and every member gave a 150 percent, and that made my job as vice-captain very easy.
“We were very unlucky not to make the semis, because I think that the level hockey we played and the talent in our side was unbelievable. We played some fantastic team hockey.”
The 27-year-old centre half, who produced a Player of the Match performance in the play-off game against Northern Gauteng, also umpired seven games and said it was a tricky juggling act playing and officiating in the same tournament.
“I was really surprised,” she said about winning the Umpire of the Tournament award, “because there were some unbelievable umpires who were graded higher than me. It means a lot to be noticed by people.
“It [playing and umpiring]was difficult, but my team supported me a lot. They stayed to watch me umpire even if we played at 11am and the game I umpired was at 5pm. While I was umpiring, I could hear them cheering me on and that motivated me even more.”
Herbert, Player of the Match against Western Province and the coastals’ star player, told eHowzit: “Being named Player of the Tournament for our team was a surprise and very humbling and exciting. To be chosen as a non-travelling reserve [for the SA Country Districts team]is just as humbling.
“I absolutely loved just being able to play hockey for seven days, so to be awarded is just a blessing. I trust I ran the hardest I could on the turf and gave my best, even though my legs were taking strain and had to be strapped daily. This slowed my efforts during the final games and was disappointing.”
The 20-year-old link line ace added: “Overall, the tour was great. I loved being a part of the SA Country Districts hockey community for a week, reconnecting with friends and making new ones. I really enjoyed playing for coastals and soaking up our time on the astro.
“Our coach and manager were fantastic and I think our team was lucky to have them. PE has a beautiful coastline that we were blessed to view every drive to and from the turf. I hated the cold windy weather, though; buying skins saved the tour.
Mnikathi was unavailable for comment at time of publication.