For 2 young High School pupils, 2017 could not have started any better. Kirsty Adams (Paarl Gym) and Dayaan Cassiem (Bishops) were awarded their first South African Senior Hockey Caps after they put in some stellar performances in 2016. Both pupils were part of the South African School Hockey teams that took to the turf against the Australian Schools Teams in July 2016. Kirsty made her debut against Chile while Dayaan came off the bench in the first few minutes of the game against the formidable Dutch National Team. I’ve had the privilege of coaching both players at one stage in my coaching career and one thing that was clear is that both players have a very high work ethic and their ability to adapt to a situation was better than most players I encountered at school level. I caught up with the two players to find out what how their debut matches went.
What went through your mind when you got the phone call to say you were in the team?
Dayaan – “When I got the call, it was surreal for a moment because it’s been what I’ve been working towards. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions all in one breath to be chosen to represent your country in the Green and Gold at the highest level is a dream come true.”
Kirsty – “I was completely overwhelmed and it took a while for me to accept it and come to terms with it but at the same time, realised what a big honour it is and how extremely blessed I am.”
What was your experience like when you touched the ball for the first time in your debut match?
Dayaan – “As a player, your first instinct when that ball touches your stick is “Let’s do this”. This is your chance to run the lines and make the pass which would assist your team in a positive way. You always ask yourself the question, what can I do better? So it’s a constant analysis of your play within the team dynamic especially when you are playing with such experienced players.”
Kirsty – “With making you debut, obviously a lot of emotion comes with it. Being with role-models in the change-room, receiving your shirt for the first time, singing the National Anthem for the first time and actually realising what is about to happen, was a lot to come to terms with before the game. My mind obviously filled with thoughts and some doubts. Luckily this time before I had to go on, everything was different. I was extremely calm and just absorbed everything around me. On the field, my first touch was one of the best feelings ever. I cannot put that emotion into words. It was truly amazing and extremely special. Once you are on that field you just have to put your head down and give your all. I can truly say my debut is the highlight of my hockey career. I enjoyed every single moment.”