Melrick Maddocks Shines for NC Again
Melrick Maddocks made his debut for the South African Men’s Hockey team two years ago in Egypt during the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), a tournament in which they emerged as victors. Maddocks remains the only national player within the Northern Cape and Free State to have obtained five national caps. This weekend will see him make a return to the national squad when the national team plays Namibia in Johannesburg. We sat down with the man to find out about his journey and sacrifices he has had to endure to make sure his dream for playing for his country becomes a reality.
Do you remember the early years you started playing hockey?
MM: I started playing hockey at a very early age, I attended West-End primary school where I played from grade one until grade seven, then went to Northern Cape High. I have represented the province at all provincial levels from under 13 to the men’s senior teams.
Was there enough exposure playing at provincial level?
MM: There was not much exposure playing for the under-13’s, but playing for the senior men’s team exposed me to better chances and it also brought opportunities to play for bursaries. I received a bursary offer in 2013 from the University of Johannesburg, which I had to decline.
Why did you decline the offer?
MM: What they offering was not fruitful enough, Central University of technology offered me a better bursary deal than UJ did.
How did you end up playing for a Gauteng Franchise then?
MM: Well, during my last year of studying in Bloemfontein, the hockey board introduced the Premier Hockey League (PHL) where players are chosen through a draft system nationally, that year did not get chosen to play in the league, so I was on the verge of giving up. I then made a personal decision after I had realised that Northern Cape and Free State hockey won’t offer me the exposure I deserve. Also, if you play for these two provinces you only play good hockey once a year, that’s when you go to Inter-Provincial Tournaments. If you look at the senior men’s national team, it mainly consists of Gauteng, Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal players. So I ended up moving from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg to play hockey full-time, and that’s when I joined Beaulieu Hockey Academy to be exposed to better and more competitive leagues. Now I play my hockey in Johannesburg almost every weekend.
How is the level of sport development in Kimberley, from your personal view of course?
MM: Sports is literally dying in Kimberley, and society is contributing towards that, it was put in the news couple of weeks ago that shanties are being put up on sports grounds, that speaks volumes to how sporting codes are no longer valued. The one institution that has a better chance to revive provincial sport, and I hope they know the big responsibility and opportunity they possess to change things that institution is our University, Sol Plaatje University. If you look at all these provinces I mentioned, Western Cape, they have UCT, Maties, skip to Gauteng you have U.J, Wits and Tuks, so our national varsities play a huge role in promoting and developing sport in a province. As a varsity you can give back to the community through CSR projects. Visit schools in the townships, have an agreement, hire a taxi to pick kids up and take them to your sports grounds to expose them to this. The interesting part about this is that varsity sports tend to attract more players. Example, when players finish school, they go to a varsity outside of Kimberley, that is the phase where you lose the cream of the crop players to other provinces. Now with the varsity being here, that entire procedure can be curbed.
Every week you travel to Johannesburg to play in the league matches, do you have sponsors or do you pay from your own pocket?
MM: Firstly, hockey is not a paying sport, we do not get paid, we have to pay for our own tournaments. An individual pays at least R10 000.00 per tournament regardless of where it is. I have to pay everything out of my pocket hence I do apply for funding when I go on national camps. Department of Sports Arts and Culture has sponsored me on one occasion. To this day I’m approaching people to assistant me, I’ve had an anonymous sponsor come on board too. I also have a sponsor from a corporate business in Kathu called ABCR HRD Consultants, they sponsor me R1500 per month to pay for my return flights. The money I make from coaching and hosting clinics across the province also assists me too cover some of these hefty expenses.
With all the financial constraints you facing, why is it still important for you to pursue this?
MM: The reason why I have always gone the extra-mile even with the lack of sufficient funds is the self-belief within me. From the young age of 14 I believed I could make it to the national squad and compete at the highest-level, but I never made the break through. Coming from here, everybody believes if you struggle financially you need to give up, so I am also trying to be a beacon of hope for the upcoming youth, I am also a coach and most of the kids probably look up to me. I need to uphold the standard and show them that I cannot conform to the norm of just settling for less. So I need to go the extra-mile and show them whatever you apply your mind to is possible, I just want to be inspirational to the youth. So for me to just sit and say there is no money, is not the answer to the problem.
For someone in your position what advice can you give young athletes who wish to compete at the highest level of hockey?
MM: I’m saying this not to boost but indoor hockey is the reason I play for the national team besides making a transitional change from provinces. I adopted indoor hockey and I hate every bit of indoor hockey. A lot of kids who did not make it to provincial teams last year joined our indoor and we took them to the biggest indoor tournament in the country and now they have made provincial teams. That again shows, actions speak louder than words. Throughout the journey you are bound to face many challenges and disappointments, don’t feel despondent and blame people, always focus on improving your game. Look at me, even though I have five national caps now coming from Kimberley, I’ve also not been selected at numerous times during my career but I never quit, instead it just made me work hard. I’d say and I repeat expose yourselves to different platforms of this sport especially indoor hockey because it helps when you play outdoor hockey, it helped me and if that is going to be the recipe for success for our province then so be it.
Name: Melrick Maddocks
Favourite Restaurant: Euro Café (Bloemfontein)
Favourite Meal: Sushi
Favourite Music Genre: Old School and a bit of house music
Favourite Movie Currently: Avengers: Endgame
Young upcoming players to watch: Elrich Masdorf, Kopano Montwedi and Joshua September
Favourite Quote: Mattew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted
People who you draw inspiration from: Charmaine Maddocks, Reeza Rosenberg, Allistar Fredricks, Egan Foster & Diego Rosier