Olympian Lindsey Carlisle talks to PlanetFieldHockey about SA?s upcoming tour to the United States October 13 ? 20, their Olympic performance, and the future of hockey in SA. Lindsey represented SA in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She holds four gold medals ? Africa Games 1999 & 1995, Africa Cup 1998 and the World Cup Qualifier 1997. She has 114 International Caps and is presently the captain on the SA national team.
PlanetFieldHockey: What do you think of national coach Ros Howell?s decision to take a young squad to the US tour?
Lindsey Carlisle: I think it?s a good move based on the fact that some of the older, more experienced players have not made themselves available for this tour. This gives Ros the opportunity to see players that have been on the fringe of making the National team, for some time, to see if they can cope at an international level.
PHF: What is the rivalry between the US and SA?
LS: The SA and US have built a rivalry since our tour to Atlanta before the 1996 Olympics. We have played each other on a few occasions and it always results in a very close contest. However, for me, there is no rivalry now; both teams have fairly new teams, and after this tour there will be a new era of rivalry between the 2 teams.
PHF: Why are you personally considered a nemesis of the US team?
LS: I didn?t know I was!!!! Maybe because I have scored goals against them in the past and carry the history of the past SA team that has defeated them on a few occasions.
PHF: What are your goals and the team?s goals on the US tour?
LS: We only go into camp on Saturday 06 October where I am sure we will set goals for the tour, but I am sure they will be based around using the international experience to develop our new team and grow the base of practised individuals before going off to The Champions Challenge.
My own goals: I feel that I have not played to my full potential on the international scene so I will be looking at running hard and playing a pivotal role in this new team and using my experience to help them cope with the demands.
PHF: Why and when did you choose hockey as your sport?
LS: I started playing hockey when I was 7 years old because my Mom and Dad played club hockey in Harare, Zimbabwe on the weekends. They used to give hockey sticks to my 2 brothers and I to keep us entertained on the sideline while they played their matches. I enjoyed the challenge of the sport from this age.
PHF: What does it take to reach the level of performance that you have achieved?
LS: 1. A dream, 2. A goal, 3. Hard work on and off the field, 4. The support of your family and friends.
PHF: What sacrifices did you have to make on the way to becoming successful?
LS: I moved from the country I was brought up in and played three-quarters of my hockey life in, Zimbabwe. I knew that if I wanted to achieve my dream (to participate in the Olympics) I needed to play hockey where it gave me the best opportunity, and unfortunately, at the time, Zimbabwe could not compete successfully against South Africa and the Olympic Games would only take the best from Africa. I am not sorry that I made the move, as it has been one that has fulfilled my life not only in hockey terms but socially.
PHF: What was your best performance on the SA team?
LS: I felt that I had a good Olympic Games although with the team finishing 10th I was less excited about my performance.
PHF: What was your team's best performance?
LS: I believe this would be the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, when we made it through to the World Cup on the 4th day of the tournament and the first team to do so when everyone thought we would not compete (seeded 11). We went on to win the tournament.
PHF: What do you think of the current state of hockey in South Africa?
LS: At the moment the current state of hockey in SA is respectable but declining, however, the game of hockey is not seen as a top sport in our country because rugby, soccer and cricket, which are all male dominated sports, undermine it. These 3 sports are marketed very well and gain maximum sponsorship and exposure. I believe if our Association was to get in a top marketing company, who?s sole responsibility was to find sponsorship for our various SA hockey teams and expose the sport to the South African public, we would see the sport grow tremendously and attract more overseas players and teams to come out and play competitions. After all, the cost of touring SA for overseas teams must be minimal.
PHF:What is being done to promote hockey in SA?
LS: There are several private coaching clinics set up all over SA, which in their small way contribute to the promotion of the game. At a national level, the various Provinces may have academies that look after the elite players in those areas, and then there are High Performance groups taking place in the major hockey centres. I believe, that there is not enough good coaching for the coaches around the country. If this area were looked after it would have an immediate impact on the players, which would lift the standard of the game. As I mentioned in the question before, Hockey in SA needs a good financial backing to promote hockey in all areas around SA. There are a lot of good people in the hockey circle who would love to see the sport grow into one of the top sports in our country but refrain from doing it because of financial constraints. These already include our existing coaches, managers and administrators.
PHF:What players have inspired you?
LS: The hockey player that has inspired me the most is Ros Howell. She captained the SA team during the isolation era and unfortunately for her only gained a few international caps. She was a superb player and thought the game through very well. In my opinion, she was unfairly dropped from the SA team when she still had so much to offer. She encouraged me to move to South Africa to play hockey and take my chances at getting into the National team.
PHF: What are your personal goals both long and short term?
LS: The 2000 Olympic Games was always my long-term goal and now that I have achieved that I feel that coming 10th was not satisfying enough. I only have a few years left to give to the SA team so any tournament I can participate in will be a bonus. I have set a short-term goal; I would like to see the SA team getting a medal at the Commonwealth Games.
PHF:What goals do you have outside your sport?
LS: I run a hockey school in the Gauteng Province and I would like to see it become one of the most popular school clinics in the Province and the country. I really enjoy coaching the kids and if I could give them the ?kick-start? to their international hockey career that would be satisfying.
PHF: What was it like playing for SA in the Olympics?
LS: Fantastic. It was the most exhilarating experience of my lifetime. Probably because I had been waiting for this chance since I was 11 years old when I vowed I would be at an Olympic games.
PHF: How was your performance in the Olympics? The team?s?
LS: As I said earlier, I was happy with my performance. I nearly didn?t make the Olympic team because of a severe knee injury that I picked up at the end of 1999 and the doctors only found out what the real problem was in March 2000. Fortunately for me, I was looked after 2 exceptional physios?, Luann Rivet and Garrick Vosloo; together they got me back into great condition. I had also had my fair share of problems inside the team but I put them aside and concentrated on doing my best and enjoying the Games.
The team?s performance was very disappointing. I thought we started the competition fairly well but seemed to lose the ?plot? after this. In my opinion, I think if we were to have the honour of going to the next Olympics, we should approach it very differently and make sure we have a team that is fully fit and prepared for the conditions.
PHF: What is Hockey Action? What is your role in Hockey Action?
LS: Hockey Action is aimed at school kids between the ages of 10 to 18. We teach them the basic skills of the game and how to apply them in a match situation. Hockey Action has been running for 6 years and is now operating in 4 different areas of Gauteng. I am the Head Coach of Hockey Action Randburg and Krugersdorp.
PHF: What do you see as the future of hockey in SA?
LS: This is a very difficult question at this point of time because SA hockey is struggling to meet the demands of putting its teams into international competition. However, if I were to think positively (which I always like to do) and know that the sport was to find sponsors and marketing opportunities, the future of hockey in SA would grow from strength to strength and we would most definitely become a threat to the world hockey rankings.
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