We spent some time chatting to former South African Women’s Hockey Captain and national coach, Lindsey Wright, to get some insight on what it takes to succeed in all areas of the sport she loves.
Young players and aspiring coaches – Lindsey has plenty of great advice and tips for you so make sure that you read and share this article with your local hockey fraternity.
- Did/do you play any other sports?
Lindsey: “Yes, I played every sport I could – swimming, athletics, basketball, indoor hockey and tennis (for Zimbabwe’s national team).”
- How did you first get noticed as a player?
Lindsey: “I played for Zimbabwe against SA in a test match and, after the game, it was suggested to me that I play hockey in South Africa. This was a massive, life changing decision for me but I knew if I wanted to achieve my Olympic dream I needed to take the risk. I found a club that had the best coach with good players because I wanted to learn from them and by the end of the year I had made the “mighty” Southern Gauteng team to play at Interprovincial Tournament (IPT). It was at IPT that I got noticed, was picked for the SA squad and from there my hockey journey began.”
- Which provincial teams did you play for?
Lindsey: “Southern Gauteng and Northern Gauteng.”
- You have achieved so much in your 209 caps playing for SA, what memories do you look back on, in particular, as unforgettable?
Lindsey: “The goal that I had set at the age of 11 was to reach the Olympic Games, the most amazing event that any athlete could aspire to compete in, which I ended up achieving twice – in 2000 and in 2004. Other memorable games were playing in the World Cups (but especially in Utrecht), the Commonwealth Games, Captaining South Africa, and playing with and against some amazing hockey players.”
- What made you go into coaching?
Lindsey: “I have always liked helping others to achieve more than they believe but I also love the challenge of trying to out think my opposition and then implement or work towards this to succeed. I was constantly coaching myself while I played so it was naturally going to be the next step.”
- What do you love most about coaching?
Lindsey: “As a coach you have to constantly think about the group of players working together as a unit to achieve winning results. I love the challenge that it brings to getting your team to “gel” together in every aspect of the game. Putting in the hard work then seeing the results very rewarding.”
- What are some of the highlights of your career as a coach?
Lindsey: “Coaching the under-21 national team during the Junior World Cup 2013, winning IPT for Northern Gauteng in 2014 for the very first time in their history and then going on to win again in 2016, winning the first ever Premier Hockey League competition in 2016, coaching in any national team, and coaching my daughter’s group of friends (8 year olds) on Saturday mornings.”
- You recently went on the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Academy coaching course for High Performance and Elite coaching, what was it like?
Lindsey: “It was incredible to be able to sit amongst some very knowledgeable coaches and get their perspective on coaching at the highest level. As South Africans, we don’t get exposed enough at this level and I believe we have a lot to offer but competing at this level is not frequent enough for us to make more of an impact.”
- What made you want to attend the course?
Lindsey: “The opportunity to learn from others and to grow my knowledge as a coach to make myself better so that I can have a greater impact on the players I coach.”
- What are some of the highlights of the course?
Lindsey: “Well both courses were part of fantastic events like the World Cup in The Hague and the Women’s Champions Trophy in London. As coaches, we get to watch the games and analyze teams in groups so you are working with other great coaches and getting to learn from them. I am not sure the lack of sleep is a highlight but definitely worth it at the end – hahaha.”
- It is important to keep up to date with the latest international coaching techniques, has the course given you a fresher perspective towards the level of coaching in SA?
Lindsey: “Yes the course pushes you to think on another level which I feel we are not exposed to enough in SA on a regular basis. Most of these coaches are full time in the positions they hold so we have those challenges as well and they are also exposed to more regular top-end competition.”
- What do you think hockey in SA still needs work on?
Lindsey: “I believe we have the hockey talent in our country but we need a clearer vision as to how we want to achieve this on every level. This is a massive task but it needs to be driven by a strong administration group and supported by volunteers who can see and believe in that vision. The biggest hurdle is the “activation” of that vision on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual purpose. I would like to see more in-depth education of the coaches as they will have a quicker and greater impact on the players throughout the country especially at a junior level as this is where good habits are implemented and can be sustainable. We also need to look at the balance of the amount of hockey that our younger generation are being made to play so that we can keep it fresh, exciting and keep them in the game for years after school. We need successful national teams that have programs that are well managed and supported by the administration group, even if there is a lack of financial support. We need to emphasize the pride and respect of representing the national team at every level and the commitment it takes to be a part of this process.”
- What are the advantages of young players and coaches attending the academy’s courses?
Lindsey: “These courses are carefully planned to bring good coaching to young players and coaches alike. They provide an in-depth range of skills to the players coached by current or past national players, who provide the finer details that progressive hockey players need to know in order to stand out from the rest. The coaches are exposed to a range of information that will help them build successful teams no matter at what age group.”
- What are your hopes for the future of SA hockey?
Lindsey: “That we earn our rightful “hockey” right to qualify for the Olympic Games again so that our younger generation of hockey players can dream and follow a sound pathway to making this dream become a reality.”
- How do you think the academy facilitates in this process?
Lindsey: “The academy provides a fantastic environment for young players to learn, grow and have fun with current and past players that have achieved success through their hard work. They are able to pass on that excitement and energy to the players and make them believe that they can do the same if they work hard every day to achieve this dream, even if it’s just to make the A team at their school.”
- You have played a big role in ensuring that the academy’s courses cover key aspects in the game, what makes the academy’s courses different from a hockey clinic?
Lindsey: “The academy looks at providing and overall program for the player with a number of different, well informed coaches who can provide the finer details of training habits to achieve success. The academy has and will continue to offer ongoing courses to players around the country. We are not a seasonal academy and we ensure the highest level of expertise to both players and coaches are delivered with energy and South African passion.”
- What advice would you give aspiring players?
Lindsey: “Set a goal and then train for this on a daily basis as the reward will have a massive impact on your future and life skills.”
- How important is the role that coaches have on the future of SA hockey?
Lindsey: “It has a massive role as they are the key to developing our future stars and that is why I believe coaches need to be constantly educated and go on to fulfill and earn their coaching accreditation at the level they choose to aspire.”
- What advice would you give to coaches?
Lindsey: “Never stop learning. I love to learn from players and coaches but I am also critical of myself and ask myself the hard questions so that I can discover the correct answers so that I can implement them.”
- How many children do you have and what ages are they?
Lindsey: “I only have the one, Katie, and she is 8 years old.”
- What sports do she play?
Lindsey: “She plays every sport she possibly can from swimming, athletics, netball, tennis, horse riding, to soccer with the boys, and hockey – thank goodness.”
- You and your husband have made a name for yourself in the country’s hockey fraternity, so your children play as well?
Lindsey: “Yes, Peter is doing very well with his umpiring and we are hoping he will be able to do enough to get to the next Olympic Games. Katie loves hockey and has a natural feeling for the game but, with our lives being constantly around hockey, we just let her play when she wants to play.”
- As a parent, why should parents enrol their daughters in the academy’s courses?
Lindsey: “It’s a wonderful, fun environment for young girls to meet new friends and play a game that they all find fun. At every course, I always notice how every player feels like they have achieved more through what they have been exposed to and they are still having fun right up to the last minute.”
- Where to next for Lindsey?
Lindsey: “Lindsey is looking to challenge herself further in her coaching career. I want to make a greater impact on the players that I coach and bring success to these teams that impact state of South African Hockey on an international level.”