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Augousti relishing African Games as SA prepares for Olympics

By Avuyile Sawula , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-02-20

The 13th edition of the African Games, to be hosted in Ghana next month, will see the return of field hockey to the list of sports, with South Africa’s men’s and women’s teams set to represent the country during the two-week event.

The return of hockey, 21 years after it was last part of the Games, is highly anticipated.

From 1995, when South Africa first became a part of the continental showcase, the South African women’s team dominated the quadrennial event, claiming gold that year and in the following two editions, 1999 and 2003, but then hockey was removed from the schedule.

The 18-player squad announced by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) will be looking to pick up where their forerunners left off when the tournament kicks off at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium on 8 March.

The team is filled with season campaigners, with the most experienced players being Dirkie Chamberlain, Celia Seerane, and Quanita Bobbs, a trio with over 600 caps between them.

A player who is aiming to hit her stride early in her career is Taheera Augousti, who is one of the younger members of the squad, with 26 international caps to her name.

Augousti is fresh out of school, after matriculating from Bloemfontein’s Eunice High School for Girls last year. However, at just 18 years old, she has quickly become an integral part of the South African side.

In an exclusive interview with SuperSport Schools, she revealed how thrilled the team was to be a part of the Games, how she has settled into international hockey, and the invaluable experience of playing alongside experienced campaigners.

“It’s really exciting for us. It will be a great experience to play against some of the best teams in Africa,” she said.

“We are going to be there for a while, and we will be using it as preparation for the Olympics, as well.

“I’m very excited to see what we can produce as a team.”

The youngster made her international debut against Italy late in 2022, in her grade 11 year, during a Nations Cup Tournament in Spain.

In 2023, she played for her country while also representing her school, in a season where they finished as the top-ranked team in the country.

She shared the challenges she faced during her transition from high school hockey to the international scene.

“It wasn’t that difficult. I played for my country in grades 11, 12, and this year.

“I could say it was more challenging during matric, because I still played school hockey, also, and the level was different, and I had to get used to the international tempo again.

“The biggest challenge I faced on the field was probably the amount of time I had on the ball. At the school level, you get a lot of time on the ball and a lot of space to run with the ball and make decisions.

“But now, at the national level, players are just quicker to get to you, and the speed of the game is much quicker,” she explained.

In her final year in school, Augousti played a leading role in the Eunice side that finished atop of the country’s rankings and scooped up several awards, including the Southern Free State League, and the Super 12 title.

She was also part of the Southern Free State side that defeated Boland 3-2 in the final of the Inter-Provincial tournament.

Despite achieving so much during her school playing days, she admitted that it was hard saying goodbye to her team, and head coach Nika Coertzen, who welcomed her into the first team when she was in grade nine.

“It was tough for me to say goodbye, especially seeing how we ended up on a high note.

“It was always a goal of ours to finish first in the country, ever since I made the team in grade 9. I, and one of the other players, were the only grade nines, and we built a strong relationship with the coach.

“So, saying goodbye to her and the team, after four years of playing in the team, was tough.

“We came short of finishing in the first place when I was in grades nine, 10, and 11, and it happened in grade 12, so to end my school career finishing first was amazing.”

At the international level, Augousti now plays with some of the most experienced hockey players in Africa, and says she is taking a lot of lessons from them.

“A lot of the players in the team, help me, and give me advice,” she said. “The senior players are very helpful, and I can speak to any of them.

“I’ve grown a massive liking for Erin (Christie), and Quanita (Bobbs), simply because they’re always helping me, motivating me, just like the rest of the team.”

South Africa will enter the African Games with qualification for this year’s Olympic Games in France secured.

They will be using the tournament as an opportunity to test their depth, combinations, and tactics, with Paris 2024 looming ever closer.

Improving the country’s medal tally at the Games will also be on the agenda, after South Africa achieved a total of 86 medals (36 Gold, 26 Silver, and 24 Bronze), across 11 different sporting codes, to finish fourth on the medals’ table in Rabat, Morocco, 2019.

South African Women’s Hockey Team

Taheera Augousti, Quanita Bobbs, Dirkie Chamberlain, Erin Christie, Kayla de Waal, Aphiwe Dimba, Paris-Gail Isaacs, Tarryn Lombard, Antonette Louw, Ntsopa Mokoena, Edith Molikoe, Hannah Pearce, Rheabetswe Phume, Celia Seerane, Kayla Swarts, Anelle van Deventer, Bianca Wood, Onthatile Zulu.

Management: Lyn Abrahamse, Giles Bonnet, Marcelle Keet, Nkuliso Zondi
Added team official: Wayne Lombard

error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.