Adele chats to current South African Men’s goalkeeper, Siya Nolutshungu. He competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and he is in the current Olympic Squad. Siya has played club hockey in France, Argentina and the UK. In Argentina, he played for Gimnasia y Esgrima Hockey Club where he was also the Goalkeeper Specialist Trainer. In France, he played for CA Montrouge where they finished top of the French League as well as competing in the EHL KO16. Siya has coached at Glenwood High School and Westville Boys High School. He is currently the Goalkeeper Head Coach at Madsen Hockey Academy.
Adele: Who are you currently playing for in outdoor Hockey here in South Africa?
Siya: I am currently playing for Crusaders Hockey club, based in Johannesburg.
Adele: Are you playing for a club overseas this year? Who is it and where are they based?
Siya: Yes I was playing for CA Montrouge based in France, just south of Paris.
Adele: How do you think the Covid 19 Virus has affected World Hockey?
Siya: The Covid 19 virus has effected field hockey in a huge manner. Not just hockey alone, our personal lives too. It’s really amazing to see what strides players and coaches are taking to still better our sport during this difficult time. Some what makes you appreciate the sports more than ever.
Adele: You are part of the South African Men’s Outdoor Squad. How are you linking up with the SA Outdoor men’s Squad currently?
Siya: We have been interacting via Zoom meetings. Doing training sessions and working on the mental side of things. Keeping in consistent contact to create better connections for when we get back on the pitch.
Adele: What has been your career highlight so far?
Siya: I have a couple career highlights. The each highlight has a significance of its own:
- GC Commonwealth Games vs Canada [2-0 win] Performance based
- SA vs Germany [2-2] Performance based
- Playing in the European Hockey League KO16 in Barcelona (2019) [CA Mon]
- Making the GB East Conference Men’s All-Stars team (2018/19) [Oxted HC]
Adele: What/Who got you in to hockey?
Siya: A moment of luck/opportunity in grade 6. I was asked to try-out for the 1st team as a goalkeeper at Merchiston Prep. That is when things just took off with my hockey career. Performed consistently and I was awarded at Hockey scholarship to Maritzburg College.
Adele: What is the best piece of advice that you can give to young players?
On the pitch:
Back your ability, be coachable and take constructive criticism with a pinch of salt.
Off the pitch:
Always be hungry to improve yourself, keep yourself honest and work hard especially when no one is looking.
Adele: What have you seen are the main differences of styles of play in outdoor with our South African Team and the top international teams in the world?
Siya: We are one of the most hockey fit nations in the world. We need to improve our technical skills, be willing to share information, open to new experiments when training and give room for talented youngsters to share their skills.
Adele: What are the qualities of an International Goalkeeper? Where do you think that you need to improve to be amongst the top goalkeepers in the world?
You need to be fit and agile as a goalkeeper, no matter what size. Work to your strengths and improve your weaknesses where possible. There is always more than learning one way.
You need to understand the team tactics as well as every player in your team, if not the most. You need to be able to help out your teammates from the back during the game by communicating to remind them during the game. This is extremely vital.
You have to endure a lot of the pressure of the team because you are the last line of defence. You have to keep your players mentally in check whether they are having a good or a bad game. Your teammates depend on you more than you think. Don’t overthink it too much and just stop the ball from going into the goals. No matter how many goals you do concede, there will be a game where you will amazing. Embrace the good and the tough moments.
Adele: How do you think we are going to improve our world ranking and get closer to the higher ranked outdoor international teams?
Siya: We need to play more International test matches. You gain more experience and you have the opportunity to test yourself consistently to grow.
Adele: Who is one of the finest players that you have played against?
Siya: Lucas Vila
Adele: Who is your International Goalkeeper Role Model?
Siya: A combination of styles: David Carter (Canada Men’s), Maddie Hinch (Great Britain Ladies) & Quico Cortez (Spanish Men’s)
Adele: Share an unknown fact about yourself.
Siya: I would have been in the music industry if my hockey career never took off.
Adele: You attended the Madsen Hockey Academy in the first year after you left school. What did you enjoy most about the Madsen Hockey Academy and what it offered? Name some of the coaches that coached with you.
Siya: I enjoyed the fact that I was given the opportunity to coach youngsters the way I would have liked to have been coached. Everybody was always looking to grow their game as a player and as a coach. We had a team of good people on and off the pitch. I don’t recall a single session where I didn’t leave the pitch, no matter how much of a good or day I was having. The availability of a good coaching network.
Adele: How important is having a specialist Goalkeeping Training division at an Academy like the Madsen Hockey Academy or developing just a Goalkeeping Academy?
Siya: It is extremely vital having any form of specialist coaching in hockey in general. The information is invaluable because that could be what makes or breaks you with your career. Goalkeeping is a position that hasn’t had many people put time towards improving players and coaches, to help them understand goalkeeper better. Goalkeepers are one of the most important players to have when creating a strong squad. They help your striker, links and defenders improve during training. They can prove to be even more important because they can win you games.