Polocrosse
Pictured: Lauren Heynes (Pietermaritzburg, KZN) / Joshua le Roux (Lidgetton, KZN) / Jacquie Minnaar (Greytown, KZN) - Photo Credit: Shannon Gilson Photography

Meet the men’s and women’s South African Polocrosse teams looking to earn South Africa’s third world title at the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup.

 

South Africa (01 July 2024) – The Proteas are ready to fight for the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup, having narrowly missed out on their 3rd win to Australia in 2019. With KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban Shongweni Club hosting the competition from 17 to 28 July 2024, the South African polocrosse team will enjoy a home-side advantage as they take on the seven other top world-ranked sides.

“Team South Africa is going into the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup strong, with a great selection of players working alongside top coaches and managers,” commented Dr Manfred Rohwer, President of The Polocrosse Association of South Africa, proud hosts of the event.

“We’re coming in as two-time winners looking to get that third title, but there is certainly some big competition we’ll be going up against. Spectators can expect some of the best polocrosse action from across the globe – this is definitely not one to miss!”

Tim Lombard, Chief Marketing Officer of Ignition Group – title sponsor of this year’s event, said:

“We are incredibly proud to see South Africa competing in the World Cup for Polocrosse right here in Durban, Shongweni. This event is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our talented people and the beauty of our province on a global stage. The Outer West region has so much to offer, and we are thrilled to be part of an event that brings the world to our doorstep and highlights the unique charm and potential of KZN”.

Team South Africa: 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup

Each polocrosse team consists of eight players, four men and four ladies, with 16 horses per team – 2 per rider. Each team has a manager, with coaches for the men’s and women’s sides.

SA Team Manager and Coaches

The South African Team Manager, Jean Hackland (Pietermaritzburg, KZN), has years of experience in polocrosse. She captained the South African ladies’ side in 2017. She’s also the wife of James Hackland, who coaches the men’s national side.

“Being part of the SA team in this manner has been so exciting and I can’t wait to see them play at the 2024 Ignition Group Polocrosse World Cup. I am looking forward to seeing the team play Australia!”

The SA Ladies Coach Henry Harris (Centurion, Pretoria) followed his father into the sport, having now played for some 50 years:

“It is a real privilege to represent South Africa at any event, but it’s even more special to be representing South Africa at a World Cup in front of home fans! I’m looking forward to our first game against Zimbabwe.”

The SA Men’s Coach James Hackland (Pietermaritzburg, KZN) – who shares his wife’s excitement in taking on Australia again – said he also followed in his father’s footsteps, having watched his dad play polocrosse at Bishopstowe, KZN.

“I’ve been playing my whole life – although it’s not as long as Henry’s [Harris] but it’s a long time,” he joked. “Coaching South Africa is such a privilege and I have enjoyed working with the team towards this incredible goal.”

SA Ladies’ Side

Vice-Captain of the South African side and the Ladies’ Captain, Jacquie Minnaar (Greytown, KZN), said she was born ‘with a racquet in her hand’ as her mom was on the 2003 Polocrosse World Cup side.

“⁠It is always a privilege to pull on the green and gold jersey, but the pride doubles when you get to play for your country in your country! ⁠I think each team brings unique skills so it’s going to require us to be on our A game. The World Cup is anyone’s for the taking!”

Lauren Heynes (Pietermaritzburg, KZN) comes from a line of polocrosse players who saw her getting in the saddle from the age of four.

“Ever since I was a little girl watching the World Cup in 2015, I told myself that one day I would represent my country. It means a lot that the World Cup is in South Africa – it’s going to be exciting having the support of the South African crowd. I know there are a few countries that will be tough to play against, but that just makes me more excited to play.”

Also born into a polocrosse family and having played as long as she can remember is Amy Cocker (Cato Ridge, KZN):

“Playing in the World Cup means the world to me; I’ve dreamt of this day ever since I led the South African team onto the field as a mascot in the 2015 World Cup. I’m looking forward to playing Australia with Zambia being a close second. Both teams are strong and I can’t wait for the challenge and the opportunity to really test myself as a player.”

Olivia King (Paddock and Port Shepstone, KZN) said she grew up with her cousins and dad playing the sport, taking on all her dad’s horses when he stopped:

“I started playing when I was six. Playing in this year’s World Cup is like a dream come true. I have been working towards it since I watched South Africa win in 2015, I cannot believe it’s almost here!”

SA Men’s Side

The SA Men’s Captain, Jan Albert Steenkamp (Wellington, Cape Town) comes with World Cup experience, having started playing polocrosse in 2001 after being introduced to it by a friend:

“Representing your country in any sport is a massive honour and something I don’t take for granted. For me, having another opportunity to represent my country in a hosting World Cup is very special. I hope and strive to make this World Cup one to remember!”

Another player destined for polocrosse was Stef Harris (Centurian, Pretoria), who grew up watching his dad and older siblings compete. This time around, he gets to compete against his brother, Damien, who is representing the Zambian team:

“Representing South Africa has always been a goal I set out ever since moving from Zimbabwe to South Africa in 2005. Playing for all the age groups has finally led me to play at the World Cup which I’ve been after for many years. I am looking forward to playing against Zambia the most as I feel we have a point to prove and playing against my brother is always a challenge I welcome!”

Chad Von Benecke (Eston, KZN) has been playing polocrosse since primary school:

“It means everything and more to me as it has been a dream of mine since I started playing. It is a privilege and an honour to be part of the team – a dream come true.”

Having accompanied some friends to a game of polocrosse, Joshua le Roux (Lidgetton, KZN) was instantly hooked and never looked back:

“It means everything to me to represent South Africa in this year’s World Cup and I am most looking forward to playing Australia and Zambia!”

The 8 international teams are divided into Pool A and Pool B according to current world rankings with each pool competing in a round-robin format for the first rounds, with six games per pool. Thereafter, the top two teams from each group will compete in the semi-finals. The finals are always an incredible spectacle, featuring world-class Polocrosse and quality sportsmanship between the two remaining sides.

Pool A: Australia (1), Zambia (4), England (5), USA (8)
Pool B: South Africa (2), New Zealand (3), Ireland (6), Zimbabwe (7)

You can find out about the event here.


Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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