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SA men’s hockey coach on Tokyo Olympics medal hopes: ‘It’s not impossible’

Nicholas Spooner and Dayaan Cassiem (Gallo)

Nicholas Spooner and Dayaan Cassiem (Gallo)

Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

  • SA men’s hockey coach Garreth Ewing believes that his side obtaining an elusive Olympic medal is “not impossible”.
  • However, he is realistic about their chances, and hopes South Africa can advance through to the knockout stages in Tokyo.
  • Ewing emphasised the importance of July’s Olympics, stating that it’ll lay a foundation for future major events.

South African men’s hockey coach Garreth Ewing admits that winning an Olympic Games medal in Tokyo this year is “quite a stretch” but he believes that it’s not impossible.

In 2019, the men’s side booked their place for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics by clinching the African Hockey “Road to Tokyo 2020” qualifying Cup in Stellenbosch.

As they were in 2016 ahead of the Rio Games, although they qualified for Tokyo 2021, SA’s Olympic mother body Sascoc has the final say on whether they’ll send a hockey team to the Games.

However, the SA men’s hockey team is doing everything they possibly can to send a team to Tokyo by launching a crowdfunding campaign.

Earlier this month, the team launched a crowdfunding campaign with the help of the award-winning platform

The SA men’s team are looking to raise between R3.5 million and R5 million to financially support the team before and during the Tokyo Games.

BIG READ | How the SA men’s hockey team is raising its own funds to fulfil Tokyo Olympic dream

South Africa, who are currently 14th in the world, are drawn in Pool B in Tokyo alongside world champions Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands and Canada.

Speaking to Sport24 in an interview, Ewing hopes his side can achieve the “impossible” at the biggest global sporting event of the year.

“It’ll be quite a stretch for us [to win a medal] but it’s not impossible. It’s actually about how well we do in our pool matches, which is where our biggest challenge lies.”

Since readmission, the men’s side has never advanced through to the knockout stages. However, Ewing has full confidence his side can progress further than the pool stages.

“I’m very confident that we can compete at a high level in every single game and even that is an achievement within itself. Every match is going to be important for us,” said Ewing.

“My aspiration is to get out of the pool and once we’re into the knockout rounds then absolutely anything can happen. Even that already puts us ahead and will give us a huge boost in terms of the rankings.”

Ewing says that this year’s Games is all in preparation for the several major tournaments for the young side, which include next year’s Commonwealth Games.

“We’re dreaming of great success and it’s not impossible but we’re realistic when it comes to laying the foundation for the 2023 Hockey World Cup and for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” he said.

If I look at the team that is potentially going to go, 11 or 12 of the guys are very comfortably still going to be young enough to compete in Paris. So, you can imagine the experience we’re going to build up towards Paris, where we’ll be seen as contenders because that’s important.” 

The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to run from 24 July to 8 August.

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