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Maphaka aims to end schoolboy hockey career on a high

By Avuyile Sawula , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-06-12 Tags: , , ,

Kwena Maphaka in action for the Saints hockey side. Photo credits: John Wessels
Kwena Maphaka in action for the Saints hockey side. Photo credits: John Wessels

Just under a month after returning from the high-profile Indian Premier League (IPL), St Stithians College cricket star and first team hockey captain Kwena Maphaka intends on concluding his schoolboy hockey career on a high note over the forthcoming weeks.

The multi-talented prodigy will lead his side on Friday night when they host Kearsney College at 18:15 on the Superpark Red Astroturf in his final derby match on home turf.

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The year 2024 has been one to savour for the youngster.

He shone for South Africa at the ICC u19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, which took place on home soil early in the year. The 17-year-old made his mark, picking up 21 wickets and a tournament record three five-wicket hauls, and took home the Player of the Tournament accolade.

His impressive bowling on the world stage earned him a call up to the Mumbai Indians team, making him the youngest South African player to play for an IPL side. Previously, the record had belonged to 19-year-old Dewald Brevis.

His inclusion in the tournament did, however, mean he would miss a huge chunk of the hockey season.

After his spell in India, Maphaka returned to action on the turf late last month, playing in the Aitken Cup, which was hosted by St Stithians.

His team entered the tournament with their sights set on defending the title they won against Jeppe High School for Boys in 2023, however, it wasn’t to be.

Their difficult challenge became an uphill task after they suffered a shock 0-2 defeat at the hands of Helpmekaar Kollege in their opening game.

The hosts recovered well, though, picking up emphatic victories over Rand Park High (10-1), Northcliff School (7-0), and Noordheuwel (7-1). The damage had been done, however, and they finished outside the top five.

Saints quickly put that disappointment behind them, and they’ve since added another four wins onto those they scored in the Aitken Cup.

Smart, quick, and enterprising hockey saw them claim the scalp of KwaZulu-Natal’s St Charles College, winning 3-2 in Pietermaritzburg. They also won 2-1 against Garsfontein, scored an impressive 4-0 defeat of St David’s Marist Inanda and, in their most recent outing, they claimed a hard-fought 3-2 victory over St Alban’s College.

“I think I’ve settled back into the game quite well,” Maphaka told SuperSport Schools Plus ahead of the Kearsney clash.

“While away in India, I always had hockey in the back of my mind, so it’s really nice to be back.

“My first game back was the first game of Aitken. Although we didn’t come out with the win, it was great to be back out on the turf and fight tooth and nail with my brothers out there.”

The 2024 St Stithians Boys College team. Photo credits: John Wessels
The 2024 St Stithians Boys College team. Photo credits: John Wessels

St Stithians comes up against a Kearsney side that’s enjoyed a strong season and has been in fine form in recent weeks.

Apart from drawing (1-1) with Michaelhouse last weekend, the side from Botha’s Hill will draw confidence from their impressive wins over Clifton College (3-0) and Glenwood (4-0) in recent weeks.

Maphaka said Saints are fully aware of the threats the visitors will pose.

“They are a great side this year,” he said.

“However, I think we’ve played some really good hockey over the past few weeks and that run of form will do wonders for our confidence going into the game.

“We know it’s going to be tough and that they are going to come out firing. I believe if we stay calm and stick to our game plan, we’ll be golden.”

The match against the KZN side will be the first of three before Maphaka bids farewell to the Saints’ hockey team.

After the weekend’s clash, they have away games against St John’s College and Cornwall Hill College later this month and, after that, they’ll draw the curtains on the 2024 season.

The skipper said his team is keen to deliver the goods in their remaining matches. “I’m really excited to end off on a high note,” he confidently said.

“I’ve loved hockey since I was young, and this will most probably be the last time I touch the Astro.

“I think getting a streak of wins in our last games would be the perfect sendoff from the game,” he concluded.


Friday, 14 June

18:15 – St Stithians College vs Kearsney College (1st Team)
17:00 – St Stithians College vs Kearsney College (u16A)
16:00 -St Stithians College vs Kearsney College (u14A)

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