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.
“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.”
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
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