SuperSport Schools Plus

Player Profile – Bianca Rees-Gibbs (Eunice)

By CS Chiwanza , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-05-22 Tags: ,

Bianca Rees-Gibbs on the charge at the St Anne's Cup.
Bianca Rees-Gibbs on the charge at the St Anne’s Cup.

The teams were tied 1-1 and there were 17 seconds left on the clock. Eunice launched one last wave of attack on the Paarl Gim goal. Eunice supporters were hopeful but did not want to invest into the belief of an outcome from that foray. Neutral supporters considered the Eunice build-up a Hail Mary. A penalty shoot-out was inevitable.

Eunice’s last-ditch offensive, then, yielded a free hit just outside the Paarl Gim circle. Ian Naude’s girls had shown themselves to be strong defensively and their supporters counted down the seconds to the final whistle.

Thinking swiftly, Bianca Rees-Gibbs took the free hit quickly, ran five metres, entered the box, and fired off a shot. The goalie saved it, but it rebounded to Rees-Gibbs. The Eunice star controlled the ball and drilled it past the Paarl Gim defence and goalkeeper.

That goal was her 13th of the 2024 St Mary’s Waverley Festival. She finished the event, which featured the top girls’ hockey teams in the country, as its top goal scorer, with 15. It was a case of lucky number 13, too, as her goal secured a place in the final for Eunice for a second year in succession.

That goal also encapsulated the 17-year-old’s abilities on the Astro. She has game smarts, spatial awareness, and a predatory instinct in front of goal.

“She has remarkable skills and a natural feeling for the game. She definitely brings the X-Factor,” said Nika Coertzen, her coach at Eunice.


Rees-Gibbs has the sporting gene. She inherited fast-twitch fibres, depth perception, and a host of other qualities from her parents, both of whom are avid indoor cricketers. She didn’t, however, follow in their footsteps. Her athletic path was decided by a choice she made when she was six years old.

Her school offered hockey practices during school time and, like any youngster keen on joining her older brother and cousin playing a sport, she signed up. “One of the earliest memories I have was actually my first hockey practice in Grade R. I started with Elsie Coetzee, and I still remember my excitement when I did my first yardstick,” she recalled.

As she grew older and developed her game, Rees-Gibbs did not have to look far for inspiration. Her cousin, Matt Rees-Gibbs, a former New Zealand international hockey player, provided her with a role model.

Modern stories of sporting excellence among the youth often involve parents who drive their children to early specialisation with the hope that they dominate their chosen codes. Jason and Martha Rees-Gibbs chose a different approach. They did not just let their daughter spread her wings in other sports, they encouraged it. When she turned nine, Rees-Gibbs represented Eunice in squash.

She took to the sport like a duck takes to water. She dominated and excelled. Rees-Gibbs won titles in the Free State Closed tournaments at u12, u13 (x2), u14, u16 (x2), and u18 level.

Bianca Rees-Gibbs shows off the collection of trophies she has won in different age groups in the Southern Free State Closed Squash Championships.
Bianca Rees-Gibbs shows off the collection of trophies she has won in different age groups in the Southern Free State Closed Squash Championships.

She decimated opponents at the Bloemfontein Open – one of the largest squash tournaments to be found anywhere in the world – in 2017, 2018, and 2020, on her way to winning her age group.

“Last year, she was selected to represent SA u17 and took part in the Malaysia Open and Singapore Open in December 2023. She finished 10th out of 64 players at the Malaysia Open and was 12th at the Singapore Open. She also won the Free State Ladies Closed tournament in 2023,” Jason told Supersport Schools Plus.

Her rise through the hockey ranks for the Eunice and Free State teams has been as meteoric as her squash achievements.

Rees-Gibbs was a member of her school’s A teams from primary school and was a member of the Free State u12A team in her maiden provincial outing. Since then, she has been a member of the Free State u14A, u16A and u18A teams.

“In sports, I look up to Maria Verschoor. She is in the Netherlands national side. She is an amazing player; I learn so much from watching her. In life, I look up to my parents. They have taught me so many valuable life lessons, especially when it comes to sports, being athletes themselves,” Rees-Gibbs said.

Over the past three years, she has played under the guidance of Nika Coertzen at Eunice. The coach has watched the teenager grow and flourish to become one of the most feared strikers in schoolgirl and provincial age group hockey.

“Her competitive nature and love for sport definitely contributes to her personal performance and contribution to the team. She is also very coachable, which is every coach’s dream,” Coertzen shared.

She described Rees-Gibbs as a player who can always be counted on, especially when the chips are down. And there is no better example of that side of her game than the match Rees-Gibbs cites as her most memorable. Again, it was against Paarl Gim.

This time, the sides met in the final of the Super 12 tournament. The clock was winding down, and as she did at the St Mary’s Waverley Festival final, Rees-Gibbs wrestled control from the opposition.

“I ran from my team’s 25-metre line all the way to the Paarl Gim circle where I took a shot and scored. The draw sent us to a penalty shootout, which we won. I still remember the excitement after we won. Everyone ran to celebrate together. That is my most memorable match,” she recalled.

Bianca Rees-Gibbs fires off a reverse stick shot in Eunice's 3-1 win over St John's DSG at the St Anne's Cup.
Bianca Rees-Gibbs fires off a reverse stick shot in Eunice’s 3-1 win over St John’s DSG at the St Anne’s Cup.

Rees-Gibbs, who has won more than a few titles in her career, was a member of the SA u16A team last year and has featured 134 times for Eunice. She has achieved a lot in her youth, but she is hungry for more.

“I would love to make SA u18 at the upcoming IPTs, and further improve my skills and love for the sport, and maybe one day represent my country in the SA women’s team,” she said.

Eunice’s coach, Nika Coertzen is convinced that more accomplishments and milestones await Bianca Rees-Gibbs. “Bianca is an exciting player, and you can always count on her. It is a privilege to have her in my team,” she said.

“She is still going to go far in her sporting career, which she definitely deserves, because of her hard work and commitment.”

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