This week on Hosting Hockey, Adele chats to current South African Goalkeeper, Rassie Pieterse. Rassie currently has 161 caps for the South African Men’s Hockey Team. He has competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London. Rassie has been to 3 World Cups in 2010, 2014 and 2018 as well as 2 Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014. He currently plays for The Wanderers HC. In 2015, Rassie competed in the Hockey India League for the Dehli Waveriders where they finished 3rd.
Adele: What is the role of a goalkeeper in hockey
Rassie: The role of a goalkeeper is quite simple, the mission is to try to keep your team in the game for as long as possible. To make good decisions and good saves at crucial moments of the game. Another key part of the job is communication regarding the game plan starting from the back. Defensive lines and tactics all need to come from the general at the back. Good communication also makes the job of the goalkeeper easier.
Adele: How much focus, attention and coaching is given to young primary school goalkeepers?
Rassie: Unfortunately, in South Africa, not enough attention is given to young goalkeepers. The reason why, is there is not enough specialist goalkeeper coaches. I’m a fond believer of the notion that if you are giving your goalkeeper specialist training, it will improve their game by 30%. This 30% will often be the difference between losing or winning by one or two goals.
Adele: When did you start your goalkeeping career?
Rassie: I started at a very late age of 18. I was very lucky to have good coaches who took me under their wing and worked hard on my technique. I was also very fortunate to play many different sports when I was younger that gave me the ball skills that I needed to be a goalkeeper. I was a wicket-keeper in cricket and that definitely got me used to having balls flying at me.
Adele: Describe your career including your international journey.
Rassie: I’ve had quite a compact hockey career, because I started at such a late age. I wouldn’t refer to it as a career though, for me, hockey is a lifestyle. A lifestyle where I’ve met and made a lot of friends from all walks of life and all parts of the world. My international career has given me the opportunity to test myself against the best of the best. Any top sportsman who has represented their country will tell you that it is an unmatched feeling to put on the green and gold. The honour is immense and I am continuously grateful for every moment that I am able to represent my country. I’ve been very fortunate to have my childhood dreams of the Olympic Games, Commonwealth games and Africa games come true. The experiences have been unbelievable, and I will treasure these memories forever.
Adele: How often do you train in a week and what type of training do you do?
Rassie: I train at least four times a week (hockey). At least one of those sessions will entail a specialized goalkeeper session. On top of that, we have a specialized gym program that we have to follow, hence my career long 6-pack ;). I know goalkeepers often get labeled as the lazy ones who just stand there, but I don’t think of myself as an elite athlete, goalkeepers are ULTRA athletes.
Adele: You are owner of the TK Franchise in South Africa. What type of goalkeeper kit do you sell?
Rassie: Yes, I am very fortunate to be representing one of the top brands in the world. I was sponsored by TK as a youngster and it has always suited my game and given me the competitive edge. It is amazing to see that most top goalkeepers in the world are using TK goalkeeping kit. This includes all four of the SA men’s and ladies goalkeepers. However, we don’t only cater for top level goalkeepers. With 6 tiers in our range, we offer goalkeeping kit all the way from first timer starter sets to those at the top (and everything in between).
Adele: What other equipment or clothing do you supply?
Rassie: Besides selling the best hockey sticks in the world. TK, being a German brand, has always had the edge on textiles and since 2010, we have introduced our clothing into many different sporting codes. Including being the kit supplier to various IPL cricket teams, professional tennis teams and in South Africa more specifically, the Hollywood Bets Dolphins, the VKB Knights, rugby teams in the Guiness Pro 14 as well as being the proud sportswear supplier to most of the top universities and schools in the country.
Adele: How has Goalkeeping changed from when you first played in the international side to the current world goalkeeping styles.
Rassie: The game has changed quite a lot. It has become much faster, with new technology added to hockey sticks, strikers are hitting the ball harder than ever. A lot of different set pieces and techniques have also contributed to the way that the modern game is played. The 6 yard and 9-yard area are where many goals are scored. In the modern era, score lines have also become higher and this means more action for goalkeepers. Now more than ever, us goalkeepers need to always be on the top our game.
Adele: Who is one of your international Goalkeeper role models?
Rassie: My goalkeeping role model is Guus Vogels. He played for the Netherlands, winning 2 Olympic goal medals in 1996 and 2000. He has had such a long and remarkable career and I was privileged to play against him in the 2010 world cup. He is a true gentleman of the sport and has the best technique that I have ever seen, along with phenomenal hand-eye co-ordination and an unmatched ability to read the game and get off his line explosively, flying through the air to protect his goals. His ability to close down space so quickly made him a striker’s worst nightmare.
Adele: What advice do you have to young aspiring goalkeepers?
Rassie: Don’t underestimate how much training hard helps. Listen to your coaches. Try to be creative and training, push yourself and always be a team player. Most of all, enjoy the game and try make as many friends as possible. We are very fortunate to have such a great game like hockey in our lives, which gives us the opportunity to make lifelong memories with the many great people we meet along the way… Keep your eye on the ball ;).