Quintin van Jaarsveld
The outstanding players of 2016 and cornerstones of Port Shepstone Hockey Club were acknowledged during the club’s annual awards evening at Port Shepstone Country Club recently.
Club members and their partners, long-serving club stalwarts and special guests gathered to reflect on a remarkable year for the club and to honour key figures of the past and present.
Also in attendance was South Coast star Donna Small, a member of the South African Under-21 ladies Junior World Cup team.
The former Creston College head girl was on hand to witness her parents Greg and Karen, as well as Lindy Horlock, receive honourary life membership to the club.
All three have been involved in the club for more than 30 years and were honoured for their exceptional service and dedication.
The theme of the night was black and white with a touch of pink in honour of club member, Lana Rhodes.
The big winners of the evening were Chris Stewart and Fortunate Mnikathi, who scooped the prestigious men’s and ladies player of the year awards respectively.
The duo played starring roles for Sheppie and KwaZulu-Natal Country Districts, with Mnikathi also securing a place in the South African Country Districts ladies team.
The Coaches Choice awards went to Matt Redinger and Kerry Herbert, while Keith Evans and Kelly Rothman were named the most improved players of the year. Rothman also won the Fidelity Guard Ladies award.
Several rising stars made an impact this year, none more so than Ty Redinger and Zola Nompuku, who clinched the junior player of the year awards.
Finally, the coveted Club Member of the Year award went to club chairman, Donovan Rothman.
“It was an amazing night and a really great way to end a good season for the club that’s growing from strength to strength,” Rothman told eHowzit.
While the men’s team found the going tough in a very competitive league, they earned their rivals’ respect with their fighting spirit.
The ladies team had an excellent season, winning 12, drawing two and losing only two of their 16 matches to finish just one-point shy of the league winners.
Both teams significantly stepped up their game this year, which led to 13 players being selected for KwaZulu-Natal Country Districts men’s and ladies teams, more than double that of 2015, when just five represented coastal sides.
The sides both finished sixth out of 12 teams at the South African Country Districts, a good achievement considering the teams are made up of grass-based players.
Gareth Bishop and Mnikathi made Port Shepstone particularly proud as they earned call-ups to South African Country Districts teams.
“This was our best year in a long time in terms of representation. To have so many players selected to attend the two SA Country Districts tournaments – and Gareth and Fortunate selected for the SA sides – were amazing achievements,” said Rothman.
He said the club made strides in all departments this year, adding the various fun events they held and the support these open events received from the community played a major part in that growth.
“We currently have over 50 club members who belong to our club this year, which is a positive step forward for the club. The interest shown has increased and we’re hoping to grow this number even more next year.
“The tournaments we had were amazing. They were used to raise funds for our club, but more than that, they became a way of getting families out and about.
“We found so many new players as well as those who hadn’t picked up a stick since their school days. Thanks to this exposure, we raised awareness for the club as many people lived on the coast their whole lives but had no idea we even existed.”
Rothman concluded: “I’d just like to thank our committee for what they’ve done this year. The club wouldn’t be in the position it is in without their hard work and support.”
Fidelity Guard Ladies Award– Kelly Rothman
Club Member of the Year — Donovan Rothman
Ladies Player of the Year—Fortunate Mnikathi
Men’s Player of the Year– Chris Stewart
Coaches Choice Ladies –Kerry Herbert
Coaches Choice Men’s — Matt Redinger
Most Improved Lady –Kelly Rothman
Most Improved Man –Keith Evans
Junior Ladies Award– Zola Nompuku
Junior Men’s Award — Ty Redinger
Honourary Life Members — Greg and Karen Small/Lindy Horlock