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Back You are here: Home Sports Hockey Kwa Zulu Natal Hockey: Feature on SA Schools Player Tevin Kok
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 00:00

Hockey: Feature on SA Schools Player Tevin Kok

The 17-year-old Maritzburg College striker Tevin Kok is a young man who knows what he wants and is exploring every avenue in a bid to get there.

Tevin KokIn Grade 12, Kok – who is from Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal, played for the SA U18 team at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games Africa Qualifier tournament in Zambia earlier this year and the strenuous game of Hockey Fives, which includes the goalkeeper, on a field the size of between the 23-metre areas and the full width of a conventional pitch, was the format.

“After first having to adapt to a new country we then had to work on mastering the Fives format and it certainly gives you more space, and the smaller numbers forces you to make decisions because you are in the game so much,” the modest Kok tells SA School Sports Mag over coffee in the College Shoppe above the Barnes grass and Pape’s Astro hockey pitches. “I still prefer the normal 11-a-side, though.”

The first time I saw Kok play was as a little primary schoolboy at the SA U13 Interprovincial Tournament (IPT) on College’s Pape’s Astro five or six years ago and it was immediately obvious that here was an exceptional player in the making.

So it’s over to his Inland U13 coach, Eston Primary sports co-ordinator Paul Gonlag, the KZN Inland U12 and U13 boys’ coach since 2007, who was Kok’s mentor a few years ago.

He says: “I first met Tevin in 2009 at the primary schools KZN Inland trials and he immediately caught my eye. He was a natural-born talent who had a great passion for the game. After a couple of practices I noticed that he had great vision on the field and coupled with very quick hands, he would be a great striker. He was very motivated and hardworking as a youngster and I knew he could reach the highest accolades. I am so proud of what he has achieved and know he will go very far in SA hockey.”

Praise indeed.

“He was one of the outstanding players at the U13 IPT in 2009. Inland had a very strong team that year and Tevin was our ‘dynamite’ upfront. He didn't score as many goals as he wanted to but his hunger for goalscoring started at that IPT and it is evident in the player he is today. Tevin had a very supportive family who also have a great knowledge of the game, which helped him develop in his younger years.

“It was an absolute privilege coaching Tevin at U13 and I'm extremely proud of what he has achieved,” Gonlag added.

I learnt the game at home in Kokstad with my brothers in the back garden,” says Kok. “Aidan is 30 and Hedley 28 so I guess I was the laat-lammetjie.”

And competition they provided for the youngest of the Kok brothers. Hedley captained College first and played SA U18 and Eastern Province men in his day. Aidan played SA U18 and Eastern Province men.

Tevin made the SA U17 squad last year and this is his second year in the KZN Inland U18 side that is preparing for IPT in the July holidays.

Kok is from a hockey family all down the line, from Granny, to Mom and Dad plus brothers. “Lots of people in my family play hockey and my Mom would travel from Kokstad to Maritzburg on Saturdays for her club hockey, that’s a four-hour trip,” Kok says. “My Dad played for Kokstad club in the South Natal league with matches at Scottburgh and Port Shepstone.

“My whole inspiration has been my family; I wanted to do what they were doing.”

Whether at College or elsewhere in KZN, the Kok family come and support Tevin at matches en masse.

His formative years were spent at Kokstad Primary where Kok came under the wing of Elodie Pienaar, a competent provincial player who moved to East London when her parents bought a farm in the Kokstad region. “We used to play on a very bumpy grass field and I guess that is where I learned to control the ball on my stick, as you really had to concentrate, focus on it,” says Tevin.

“When I played on Astro it was so much easier after that experience on grass and I followed my brothers to Maritzburg college because of Mr Bechet [the legendary former College first team coach Mike Bechet],” says Kok.

Now in his third year in the first team, Kok made the SA U16s aged just 15 but didn’t make it the following year. “Mr Bechet helped me then, he said I must just keep on going and not lose heart.”

Let’s hear what Bechet, whoproduced 15 SA senior players since he started out coaching the first team in 1982, and 67 SA U18 players, has to say. There is no one better qualified to assess Kok than Bechet, whose win percentage as first XI hockey coach was nearly 80% over those 30-plus years, and whose teams only lost an average one match in every 10. Bechet has seen some outstanding talents in his time.

“Tevin Kok has a good work ethic, a work rate like Wayne Rooney, great hands and is an excellent striker of the ball, both forehand and backhand, while he has blistering pace with the ball and a good understanding of any role given him to execute,” says Bechet.

“He is my type of player, has a big heart coupled with innate talent. He is a quiet, unassuming lad whom I believe could go all the way if he gets into the right environment post-school.”

Kok is enjoying playing under successful new College first team coach Devon van der Merwe this year. “It’s working well for us with Mr van der Merwe,” says Kok.

Let’s hear former SA U21 Junior World Cup 2005 player Van der Merwe, also a College product, on Kok.

“Tevin has the ability to eliminate players, win penalty corners and score field goals.”

So what does he need to work on that does not quite measure up to these qualities. “Apart from his obvious talent, Tevin needs to look at improving his communication skills and decision making on and off the ball,” says Van der Merwe.

“He a team player, and is working hard on and off the field to achieve his goal. He is focused. He has a very bright future ahead of him if he continues in this vain, the sky is the limit. He is committed to continuing gaining an education after school and pursuing his hockey aspirations.  He must avoid the dangers that every young man needs to avoid, that bring about ill-discipline and negative lifestyle habits.”

So where to now for Tevin Kok, as schooldays are nearing an end? “I would like to make the SA team for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in August this year and I would also like to play overseas at some stage and get more hockey experience. I have applied to study at Varsity College [in Durban North], as well as Maties [Stellenbosch], UJ [University of Johannesburg] and UKZN [University of KwaZulu-Natal] in Durban.”

Kok’s ultimate ambition is to play for South Africa at an Olympic Games and a World Cup, but for now he is applying his mind and efforts on the training pitch with the aim of being selected for the SA U18 team after SA U18 IPT on his home turf on Pape’s Astro in July – and with it a crack at the Australia Schoolboys’ team that will cross swords with the SA U18s at Maritzburg College and Kearsney College during the SA U16 boys’ and girls’ IPTs at these schools, which take place directly after the U18 IPTs end.

Best wishes to a thoroughly likeable young man.

Photographs courtesy of Smugshots Photography

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