View from the Dugout - Sports News 26 April 2018
Yesterday, I went to watch prep school U7 soccer day which involved a number of round robin matches. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the players have so much fun. What was most noticeable was that all the boys played with such freedom and there seemed to be no element of fear (except for a few who seemed to be a little scared of the ball!). I guess that, whilst there was a winner and a loser in each game, the low emphasis placed on winning and the gentle adult interactions of the coaches and spectators must have contributed to the freedom with which they played. It was so refreshing to see sport in its most unadulterated form – and I mean un-ADULT-erated (low adult interference). In fact, for the most part, the adults in attendance were having as much fun coaching and supporting the players as the boys were themselves. There was a singular occurrence, however, that caught my attention during a particular match. A father, having got really excited about his son’s game, became really vocal on the side of the field shouting encouragements and instructions. As he paced the touch line, his vociferous yells could be heard by all and sundry and no doubt the players as well. His passion was not merely evident in his shouts but in his body language as well – he clearly had a LOT riding on the game. Don’t get me wrong, there certainly is nothing wrong with really getting behind your boy and, in some ways, this man’s passion for his son’s sport was admirable. The incident did, however, get me thinking about what impact our support, as well-intentioned as it may be, may have on the motivation of our boys when they are playing sport. Do our words and actions inspire or do they generate pressure and fear?
We know that in life, in all things and at all times, freedom trumps fear hands down. In sport, this is supported by science where it has been proven that those who play free of fear always outplay those who play with anxiety. Another interesting insight that we have learnt from sport psychology is that different players are motivated in different ways, some sportsmen need to be “fired” up and others calmed down for competition – there is no one size fits all formula. We also know that no athlete is ever inspired by being spoken down to or threatened – this tactic is the worst possible motivation one can give. (* the greatest coaches understand what it takes to motivate each individual player and that, for some players, even a gentle instruction can be translated as pressure.) Bearing this in mind it is worth us considering our part as the coaches and supporters of school boy sport and how our actions and words may be influencing the way our boys play. It may be the case that even our best intentions are in fact not helpful at all.
Here are some things that we can do to make sure that we are giving positive motivation:
- Never allow the game to get the better of us on the sideline - then the game won’t get the better of our boys on the field.
- Rather be more circumspect in our support, understanding that we don’t fully realize the impact our words and actions may be having on the team.
- Ask our boys how they would like to be best supported.
Lastly, in my opinion, there is no greater motivator than positive parent support. It is not just valuable to the success of our teams but, way more importantly, it is critical in the development of the self-assuredness our boys. Throughout our history, our Hilton College parents have been nothing short of exceptional supporters and for this I would like to thank our parent body.
On Saturday we travelled to Maritzburg to face the might of “College”. Maritzburg College have been friend (and foe) of Hilton College for over a century and our strong relationship continues today through the numerous inter-school activities that we share with them. It is always a daunting challenge for our “little school of 560” to go down the hill to face this 1340 (pupil) strong giant. And our task was made even more difficult by the fact that Maritzburg College were coming off a clean sweep of wins against Pretoria Boys High School (played 24 won 24) when we were just coming off a holiday. No excuses… and none were given by our boys who, team for team, did us proud with their fight. In fact, if you analyse the results you will find that, despite not winning very many games, we have vastly narrowed the gap with regards to the points scored for vs. points scored against in this fixture. Numerous very closely contested matches were played most of which were head-to-head; a massive improvement on our results from the past.
The U14A probably played the match of the day earning a closely contested victory. Having started very well, we raced to a 16 – 3 lead early on. Never those who give up, College managed to strike back before the half-time whistle to leave us ahead 16 – 10. The second half was even more pulsating with neither side giving an inch. 16 – 10 became 21 – 20 with only minutes remaining on the clock - we were in for a nail-biting finish. An exceptional break by our intrepid full back, HJ Pienaar, was the magic we needed and his 40m run and fine offload in the cross cover tackle saw Jack Waterhouse over the whitewash for a 26 – 21 lead. Despite a nervy last minute the game ended with the score unaltered - a brilliant win against a very competent opponent.
The 3rd XV showed great guts to draw 14 – 14 on Goldstones. In many ways they will feel somewhat disappointed as they certainly had their chances to win the game. A good showing nonetheless!
Before the 1st XV match there was a real sense that Hilton could pull off a rare and historic win away from home. The White had only beaten College on two occasions in the last 20 years and it was 20 years since their last victory on Goldstones. From early on in the game we asserted a clear dominance on the home side; physically, territorially and in the possession stats. Only brave College defending and some unforced errors at crucial times kept our boys from getting too far ahead in the first half. After an early penalty conversion, an individual try from a “chip and chase” by Gareth Schreuder and a try from a “pick and go” by Niaan Taljaard (that looked something like a freight train going through a building) gave us a commanding lead 12 – 3. An advantage we maintained until half time. It was more of the same in the second half and, more and more, the game looked like it was going to end in our favour. College did manage to pull two tries back, one of which was right at the end of the game, but the better side eventually won with a convincing 29 – 18 score line. In terms of the fixture, its history and context, this was a proud moment for anyone who calls themselves a Hilton College supporter.
The Maritzburg College Hockey Club has been amongst the best in the country for many years now so it was always going to be a tough outing to play on their home turf.
The day, however, could not have started any better for us with the outstanding U14A team producing a dominant 3 – 1 win. Despite going down (0 – 1) early on, the team showed great grit to pull one back soon thereafter and then to produce some sublime play to accelerate to a 3 – 1 lead at the half. No further score was added in the second period and the team recorded a historic victory.
Another highlight was the U16A team performance. The team fought hard to come from behind twice against their much fancied opponents. Our final goal was a gem, with James Presbury converting a phenomenal deflection goal to snatch the 2-2 draw.
In the main game of the day, our 1st XI found it difficult to contain a very strong and fired up Maritzburg College side in the first half. The team started well and played good hockey for the first fifteen minutes but a lapse of concentration allowed College to get the first score, which rattled us. In only a ten minute period College capitalised by scoring two further goals. We were able to consolidate but the damage was done, the first half ending 0 – 3. To our credit we produced a much better second half performance. We scored early through a Duncan Fyvie penalty stroke and then continued to press hard for a result. Unfortunately, we were unable to take our chances when they presented themselves which proved to be the difference between the teams. In the end College earned a well-deserved 1-3 victory.
Our shooting club is one of the oldest sports clubs at Hilton College. They have a very proud history and I am delighted that, through the hard work of our staff and boys, we continue to be a prominent school in this sport code in KZN. This past weekend, the club competed at the KZN Open which we hosted at our school. The boys did exceptionally well and I would like to congratulate our Head of Shooting, Mr. Iyer, and his team for not only their success in the competition but for their outstanding hosting of the KZN shooting community.
- Kutloano Modisaesi - Gold Medal - U20 10m Sporter
- Jean Luc Krause - Silver Medal - U20 10m Sporter
- Jean Luc Krause - Silver Medal - U20 3P Sporter
- Aidan Schroeder - Bronze Medal - U20 10m Sporter
This coming weekend we host traditional rivals Kearsney. Generally, we are very evenly matched against the boys from Botha’s Hill so it should be a very exciting day of matches. We will be live steaming the 1st XV match (unfortunately we cannot live steam the 1st XI due to the location of the AstroTurf) which is due to be played at 15:00.
Here is the link if you would like to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9-lKLTHCRk
PRETORIA BOYS HIGH FIXTURE
We are making steady progress with the arrangements for the PBHS fixture. This has been a massive logistical undertaking but we are very excited about the benefits that such a tour will bring. I would like to thank all of our JHB and PTA families who have volunteered to provide accommodation for our boys on Friday 11th May. The details of the trip will be posted in a separate letter on the D6 communicator.
This coming weekend we are travelling to Maritzburg College for our annual winter fixture against the Midlands giants. By all accounts it should be an exciting day of matches. The 1st XV game is scheduled to be a televised game so parents can look out for our rugby boys on Super Sport (14:45 start)
Our remaining fixtures are:
- 28th April - Kearsney College (Home)
- 5th May - Michaelhouse (Away)
- 12th May - Pretoria Boys High (Away)
- 26th May - Westville (Home)
- 2nd June - Kearsney College (Away)
- 9th June - St Charles College (Away)
- 16th June - Michaelhouse (Home)
Executive Director - Sport