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Nurturing the next generation of female athletes

Nurturing the next generation of female athletes

Passion for sport is an intrinsic aspect of the South African identity; it is as much a part of who we are as our love of music or a sumptuous braai. Kloof resident, Les Galloway exemplifies this tradition and has devoted much of her life to the growth and success of women’s hockey.

“I first started playing when I was in Grade 7 (11 years old).  There was no formal coaching and whoever was interested and had a stick, took part in the PE lessons during school.  We sometimes played 16-a-side, but it was great fun,” Galloway said.

Although she and her husband have lived in Kloof for the past decade, Galloway has also spent time in other areas, “I was brought up in Durban and after a brief stay in Johannesburg, moved with my husband to a sugar farm in Doringkop on the KZN North Coast.  We spent a glorious 26 years on the farm with our two children; we then sold it and moved to our current home.”

Playing hockey as a child had a profound impact on Galloway’s formative years, which is what sparked her desire to continue involvement in her adult life. “I enjoy giving back to hockey and watching players and officials enjoying the game as much as I did.  I marvel at how skilful the players are and the quick pace in which the game is now played.

“I was extremely proud when I managed the SA U21 women’s team to their first overseas trip where we played internationals in Wales and England. It was very emotional to stand on international soil and sing our national anthem.”

Galloway’s accolades don’t end there though; she has been at the forefront of some of the proudest moments in South Africa’s hockey history. “There is no doubt a huge career highlight was when I managed the SA women’s team when we won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in India in 2012.  It was a huge team achievement and enabled us to qualify for the London Olympics.

“To walk through the tunnel of the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics is something that I was so privileged to have experienced and something that is too overwhelming to describe. It was certainly a cherry on the top for being the team manager of the national side for six years.”

For most people, these experiences would be a career well-spent and more than enough to call it a day. However, Galloway also has an eye on the future and is the founder of the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge. “In 2011, I was approached by SPAR KZN to develop a concept that would focus on schoolgirls’ hockey. This was music to my ears, as so often we can come up with an idea but it lacks funding.  I was very blessed in that this time it was the other way round and schoolgirls’ hockey has been able to benefit from this wonderful sponsorship!

“We road-trip around KZN and hold 10 regional tournaments, ending in a grand final tournament where the regional winners come together to decide the SPAR KZN Champion.”

The vision of the tournaments is to develop opportunities for schools to come together and have a day of great hockey, encouraging a spirit of fun and camaraderie. The concept has been so successful that it is now active in the Eastern and Western Cape, with Southern Gauteng and the Free State joining in this year. “This year, we will have a total of 25 tournaments, with some 224 schools taking part. Apparently one day I will retire, but not now; I’m just having too much fun,” she laughed.

 

 

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