Madibaz coach Cheslyn Gie will place an emphasis on an attacking brand of hockey as he takes up his new role as South Africa’s men’s coach.
The Madibaz Sport hockey manager has been involved in various coaching roles within the national set-up since 2017, most recently taking over as interim head coach following the resignation of Garreth Ewing last year.
Now he is thrilled to be appointed on a fulltime basis after SA Hockey announced at the weekend that he would be in charge of the squad until the completion of the FIH Hockey World Cup in 2026.
“There is a sense of relief and immense pride,” the 48-year-old said as he reflected on reaching the pinnacle of his coaching career.
“You always dream of representing your country at the highest level and finally it’s come true.”
Gie said he was “extremely excited” at the opportunity to lead a special group of players and to continue the strides they had already made.
Last year they won the Africa Cup of Nations and qualified for the World Cup under his mentorship. They also triumphed in the FIH Nations Cup and qualified for the FIH Pro League.
In 2023, the team finished in joint 11th place at the FIH World Cup.
His coaching philosophy promotes an attacking style of play and the freedom for players to express themselves. With that in mind, his attention will now turn to qualifying for the Olympics at the Africa Cup of Nations in August.
“We have players with great speed so adapting our game plan to suit those strengths is something I will be focusing on.”
The new coach, who is from Gqeberha in Nelson Mandela Bay, introduced subtle changes at the Nations Cup and reinforced those at the World Cup as he looks to instil an attacking frame of mind within the squad.
With 22 years of experience in hockey administration and coaching at various levels to call upon, the Madibaz stalwart believed his elevation to the national role would motivate him even more to succeed.
He started his career with the then-PE Technikon men’s premier league team in 2001, the same year he became a selector for the SA U16 outfit. Gie has been coaching the Madibaz men’s premier league team since 2007.
“I feel that this appointment means all this time and effort over the years have finally been rewarded and that fuels my passion for coaching even more.
“I think the coaching experience I have gained in that time will help me to add value.”
One of his goals is to improve the team’s ranking from 14th to within the top 10.
However, for now, he has qualifying for the Olympics and making the playoffs at the World Cup in 2026 on his mind.