Exclusive Interview: SA Hockey Legend: Pietie Coetzee
As the World Record holder for most international goals by any female player to date, Pietie Coetzee needs little introduction to the Hockey world. With 287 goals in 289 for the South African national team, Pietie Coetzee became a household name in Hockey circles all over the world.
As part of our coverage for the FIH Women’s World Cup, we had a chat with Pietie about her experience at the highest level of the sport, here’s what she had to say:
Throughout your long career, you represented South Africa in a number of tournaments all over the world, what does the Hockey World Cup mean to you?
It is THE event on the world hockey calendar. The best in hockey is there. It means it is an event you can measure up with the best. Compete at the absolute highest level.
For those not too familiar with the sport, what makes the World Cup so different to the Olympics?
The Olympic Games is a smaller scale of hockey tournament. Fewer teams participate. The World Cup is obviously only hockey and the focus on the sport is far greater than at the Olympic Games.
You did some punditry work during the World Hockey League in SA last year, can you give us your take on the condition of the current women’s national team?
The current team is the most experienced team we have ever fielded. The most number of caps and experience in general. Some of the players are at their 3rd world cup. That level of experience should start reflecting in the performance of the team. We saw at the World League that the team had some very inspired performances when it counted. My take is that the team needs to play with freedom and express themselves. They need to bring all that experience to the forefront and back it up with our typical South African fighting spirit.
Of course we would like to see results at the World Cup, but which area of play would you like to see the side improve on since the last time you watched them in action?
People outside of the sport in this country expect miricales from our national teams, with little knowledge of the circumstances of the sport, what would you say is an acceptable finish for the ladies in this tournament?
With the current situation I think if the team can get into the next round of play that will be brilliant. It means they would need to finish top two in their pool.
Having touched on some of the difficulties that our Hockey players face – what improvements would you like to see in terms of the off-field challenges of our athletes?
Lets get the team semi professional and in a residential program to train together all year round. I am sure there are plenty funds available for this (LOTTO?). In my opinion that is the number one issue we face.
This might be putting you on the spot here, but if you could choose one SA player as a “player to lookout for” who would yours be?
There will be no surprises in terms of a stand out player in our side this year. The team will rely heavily on experience and the fact that most of the players are in that bracket. There are two youngsters in the team but it will be completely unrealistic to think that either of them will shine at this first major event they participate in.
As a seasoned veteran of the sport, what advice would you offer the ladies for the rest of their campaign?
To back themselves. I believe mentality is the only factor which separates us from anyone else.
Lastly, Who are your favourites to win the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup?
I am hoping for a surprise performance from teams like NZ, Belgium, Italy or Ireland. Maybe an underdog team like that could get to face a major team in the semi even. But in the end it will take a lot to beat The Dutch.
We are planning a whole bunch of awesome content on The Pundits around the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup, including match reviews and player interviews, so please be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to stay up to date with everything the ladies are up to in London.