SuperSport Schools Plus

Player Profile: Ryan Venter

By Vuyo Ndudane , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2024-07-08 Tags: , ,

In a special season for Parktown hockey, 1st XI captain Ryan Venter led the side to the final of the Aitken Cup for a first time since 2010.
In a special season for Parktown hockey, 1st XI captain Ryan Venter led the side to the final of the Aitken Cup for a first time since 2010.

During the SASHOC National Week, hosted in Bloemfontein from 16-21 June, Ryan Venter was one of Southern Gauteng‘s standout players.

While Southerns didn’t enjoy as good a run at the tournament as they would have hoped for, the Parktown Boys’ High School 1st team captain and his team-mates were typically competitive as the Johannesburg-based team always is.

In the end, they finished fourth, going down 0-1 to KwaZulu-Natal Coastal A in their final playoff game. In total, Southerns played seven games, won two, drew two and lost three, with two of those being in the battle for the top four positions.

In their opener, against Eastern Province, a tight contest ended in a 2-2 draw. Second time out, they edged out the hosts, Southern Free State, 2-1.

They claim a hard-fought victory in their third match, edging out Northern Gauteng 4-3 at Grey College.

Then, in one of the games of the tournament, they fought back from a 2-4 deficit at half-time to rescue a 4-4 draw with KwaZulu-Natal Coastal A.

Southerns suffered a significant setback in their next outing, however. They led KwaZulu-Natal Inland 2-1 but were then brushed aside as the KZN boys produced a stunning fightback to capture a 5 -2 victory.

Still, Southerns made it through to the semi-finals, but Boland had their number, recording a comfortable 4-1 victory.

For Venter, being part of a side that made it through to the final four was a big step up. In 2023, he was part of the Wits team that won promotion to the A section.

Venter also shone for Parktown this season in the Aitken Cup, helping the school reach the final for the first since 2010 after a 5-3 defeat of St John’s College in the semi-finals.

The 2024 hockey season brought renewed pride in Parktown Boys' High hockey. Here, captain Ryan Venter leads the school in a war cry after a game.
The 2024 hockey season brought renewed pride in Parktown Boys’ High hockey. Here, captain Ryan Venter leads the school in a war cry after a game.

It runs in the family!

Now 18, he started hockey playing hockey when he was in grade 5, in 2017. Since then, he has made his mark in local schools’ competitions and on the national stage.

In 2022 and 2023, he represented the Southern Gauteng B team at the Inter-provincial Tournament, which is now known as the SASHOC National Week.

Venter comes from a hockey-playing family, he explained: “My mother was a provincial hockey player for Free State, when she was in high school, and my father was an ice hockey player, when he was in school. Hockey has been in my family for a long time, and I wanted to be just like my role models, my parents.”

If he’s not busy with hockey, then you’ll find the 18-year-old playing and following football, his other love.  He told SuperSport Schools Plus that he has played the sport for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve played soccer my whole life,” he said. “My favourite player is Lionel Messi.”

The highlights

This season, Venter achieved a big milestone when he received his 100th 1st team cap for Parktown, alongside one of his best mates, Nicholas Townsend. Two other achievements in 2024, reaching the Aitken Cup final and representing Southern Gauteng A at the SASHOC National Week, also rate highly, in his book.

Ryan Venter's commanding presence in defence was one of the keys to Parktown's rejuvenation in the 2024 hockey season.
Ryan Venter’s commanding presence in defence was one of the keys to Parktown’s rejuvenation in the 2024 hockey season.

“Playing in the Aitken final is my number one,” he reckoned. “After years of Parktown not being on that stage, it was my proudest moment, as well as the team and [Parktown coach] Mr Reddy‘s, and playing in the u18 IPT finals with the Southern Gauteng B side last year and winning the game to promote the B side back to A section is definitely something I’ll always remember,” he added.

The Parktown Boys’ High hockey whizz also identified their first contest of the season, against St Alban’s College, as being particularly rewarding. After trailing, they fought back to claim a 3-2 victory.

“It was a very tightly contested game. St Alban’s managed to go 2-1 up. We won a shortie with only a few minutes left of the game and I took the flick and scored to equalise,” he recalled. “Not long after, Zeyad Davids scored an amazing backstick to put us up 3-2 at home. During that game, I feel like I played well. I moved the ball well and I was solid at the back.

“To play in a game like that, with the whole school watching, was something special. My teammates, Mr Reddy, and the school, were a driving force that helped me play a perfect game.”

For the team

Venter credits his coaches for helping him to achieve what he has in hockey. Team-mates, too, have made it a special journey, he added.

“Although we have been through a lot of good and bad times together, there isn’t any other team I’d rather end my Parktown hockey career with. These boys are amazing hockey players and even better human beings,” Venter said.

“I owe all my success to Mr. Kyle Reddy, for putting his trust in me to play in the side from grade 10. He saw something in me that many others did not. I’m forever grateful for what the team, Mr. Reddy and Mr. Le Forestier have done for me.”

The future

While playing for Southern Gauteng A at the SASHOC National Week was a big achievement for Ryan Venter, he has bigger goals on the hockey field.

“My goal is to play for the national side one day and hopefully professionally overseas somewhere,” he shared.

“Making the u18 A provincial side this year was one of the goals I’ve been working towards, and I hope to one day tick off more from my list,” he concluded.

Vuyo Ndudane