|University of Johannesburg hockey star Tyson Dlungwana has described his role in South Africa’s triumph in the Africa Cup as the biggest moment of his fledgling career.
The 20-year-old midfielder was a member of the national squad which annexed the continental title last month, overturning a 1-0 deficit to defeat hosts Egypt 2-1 in the final in Ismailia.
That triumph secured the men’s team a place in the World Cup next year, while Dlungwana said he would also be working hard in the months ahead to fight for a spot in the Commonwealth Games squad.
“This is the best achievement of my career so far,” said the second-year education student, who grew up in Maritzburg but is now in residence at UJ.
“It is a big step forward for me and I just hope I’ve done enough to solidify my spot in the side.
“My major goals for next year are to be in the team for the Commonwealth Games in Australia (in April) and the World Cup in India (November-December).”
Dlungwana said he enjoyed the experience of playing in Egypt and had learnt to handle several challenges.
“One of the first things I realised was how fortunate we are in South Africa to have the infrastructure we do for hockey,” he said.
“There were some adjustments we had to make, such as getting used to the local food, which was a bit different from home.”
He added that there was also the matter of gelling with his teammates as they were together for just three days prior to the tournament.
Before the UJ player turns his attention to next year’s goals, he said his focus would be on the second edition of the Premier Hockey League, which begins on November 25.
In this competition, the country’s leading players are divided into franchises that play a series of matches until December 12.
Dlungwana said he would be turning out for the Golden Gate Gladiators.
“The Premier Hockey League is a massive step forward for SA hockey. We really appreciate the sponsors who have got involved as it provides a lot more exposure to hockey.
“It will definitely help the sport to grow and will encourage more children to take up the game.
“Last year’s inaugural competition was great and I’m really looking forward to it again.”
Dlungwana was delighted to receive an accolade at the UJ Sports Gala last month, being named the age category sportsman of the year.
“For me, that means I was consistent during the year and also brings a sigh of relief knowing that my hard work has paid off. I’m honoured and grateful to be recognised in this way.”