The term “generational talent” often refers to a person who changes the perspective of a certain sporting code, the way the game is played, and how they are remembered when their time is up in a particular team.
That term certainly resonates with one player that has caught the eye of many schoolboy hockey enthusiasts in South Africa, and that name is Jaydon Brooker.
Brooker, who ploughs his trade for the Jeppe High School for Boys first hockey side is undoubtably one of the most skilled, committed, and talented schoolboy hockey players the country has ever produced.
The confident yet humble 18-year-old started his hockey career at Jeppe Prep, and switching to another school after his primary days was never a consideration. Instead, Brooker was set on carrying on the rich history and legacy left behind by those who came before him.
Described as a humble, selfless, and team player by one of his coaches, Lydon Smith, Brooker has since gone on to represent the men in black and white stripe for three years, making the provincial team and SA Schools side in the process.
His attacking flare and eye the game has made him a threat to be reckoned with, and this is evident with the 49 goals he has accumulated over the course of the current season.
In a long-awaited interview with SuperSport Schools, the SA prodigy outlined how his team have grown throughout the season, also mentioning the strides he’s taken in achieving his personal goals.
“I do think the team has improved this season, it’s been a good season for us despite the two losses against St Stithians College and St Johns, besides that it’s been a wonderful season,” he said.
“We have formed good relationships and learnt to accommodate one another, and we enjoy each other’s company on and off the field.”
“I must say, I do think we’re much better than we were last year, result wise.”
During the mid-year school break, Brooker was part of the team selected to represent the Southern Gauteng side at the annual SASHOC u18 tournament held in Bloemfontein this year.
Despite his side coming short in the final, losing to Western Province (3-1) after cruising in the group stages, Brooker finished the tournament as top goal scorer with 10 goals scored during the week.
To top it off, he received the player of the tournament accolade and was immediately selected to represent the South African u18 team which faced the SA U21’s in a two-match series at the same venue.
“The IPT (SASHOC) was one for the books,” he recalled.
“I’ll never forget it because I formed so many relationships with boys, I never thought I would. The hockey at Provincial level is not the same at schoolboy level, I must say. It’s a lot tougher because in schoolboy hockey there’s the odd one or two boys In a team that standout whereas in a provincial team there’s probably eight or nine good players in one team.”
“But yes, its competitive and you gain a lot, you learn a lot and it has made me a better player.”
Soon after finishing second in the Provincial tournament, Brooker was tasked with the challenge of shifting his focus to the SA Schools team that faced the SA u21 side.
The u21 side were using the series to prepare for their upcoming World Cup in Malaysia later this year. Brooker lined up against the likes of Ross Breytenbach, Damian Knott and one of the Cassiem brothers, Mustaphaa Cassiem.
He admits that playing in that level is a moment he will cherish for the rest of his life.
“It’s always wonderful playing for your country, I mean last year, I missed out – I thought I had the ability to make the SA Schools team last year already but unfortunately I didn’t because of how I performed at IPT,” added Brooker.
“Playing this year was really an experience I hope hockey players coming through the pipeline get to experience and cherish because like I’ve learnt a lot of things – the intensity is way more and it was good – I learnt a lot especially playing against the u21’s. That certainly made me a better hockey player.”
Brooker and his side will face King Edward this week, better known as KES in one of the most highly anticipated matches in the school’s calendar. The “brothers in motion” as he calls them will to look to replicate their emphatic (5-1) victory against Parktown Boys a week ago.
The home side will also be aiming for a double over their rivals after beating them (3-1) in the first match early this year.
The fixture will also see Brooker and other players in the side play their last fixture for the school against their old foes. History favours the hosts who haven’t lost to KES since 2014, however, Brooker says the team needs to stay calm and treat the match just like any other, despite the huge occasion.
“Playing KES is always nice; you get to play against your mates from a rival school, but it will be just another game and we shouldn’t think of the occasion even though its big,” he said.
“I mean this is the fixture that means the most to the old boys and the school – I understand the history behind it – this is one game we look forward to the most – but we shouldn’t overthink it.
“I’m really excited, I mean this will be some of the boys last one against KES, so we need to make the most of it.”
The action between Jeppe Boys and King Edward kicks off at 16:30 on Friday. Catch all the action on SuperSport Schools.
In other fixtures to look out for during the weekend, Affies will host Waterkloof while Pretoria Boys High travel to lock heads with Maritzburg College. Parktown Boys will be looking to end off the season with a win when they take on Garsfontein away from home.
Jeppe High School for Boys: Joshua Renders, Neo Chimanyi, Brent Johnson, Ryan Harcourt-Baldwin, Chaz Breytenbach, Kyle Jackson, Jaydon Brooker, Christian Steinmann, Miguel De Jesus, Diahn Alberts-Flynn, Ben Benjamin, Ethan Kapanda, Matthew Morudi, Tyrique Joseph, Biopelo Koloti.
King Edward VI: Dimitri Despotakis, Elam Tokwe, Fynn Campbell, Keabetse Seome, Qhayiya May, Ongopotse Pule, Michael Adamson, James Erasmus, David Teeger, Steven Gunn, Dante Peters, Kian Hilton, Tyler Ruckard, Oyena Qwabe, Benjamin Simon.
16:30 – Jeppe Boys vs King Edward VI
Saturday 29 July:
10:20 – Affies vs Waterkloof
11:00 –Maritzburg College vs Pretoria Boys High
11:15 – Garsfontein vs Parktown Boys’ High
Avuyile Sawula is a multimedia sports journalist, broadcaster, and writer. He possesses a journalism qualification from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. During his time in the media industry, he has worked for various online media publications covering big matches and events across the country. He also has a broadcasting background having worked as a news journalist at one of Cape Town’s commercial radio stations. His reporting beats include hockey, rugby, water polo, and cricket. Apart from writing, he has a knack for creating sports content, and video editing.