Namibia’s top flying female athlete and national indoors hockey team captain Magreth Mengo will hang her boots and retire from hockey after the coming world cup, The Villager Sport can exclusively reveal.
“Yes, I plan to retire after the world cup. I want to plough more back in hockey development. I have big plans, watch the space,” she has said.
Road to the world cup
This week, she set with The Villager Sport and took us through the moments of triumph right at the heart of the pristine coastal town of Swakopmund where her team brought down the dust of defeat on Namibia’s long time rivals, the South Africans before qualifying for the world cup.
“Emotions took over, and tears rolled down for about 30mins. I was thanking the Almighty and the pictures on that day can testify to this,” she says.
It was no easy feat, the South Africans who had rivalled the Namibian team at every turn and snuffing off hopes of ever landing in a world cup arena were once again determined to repeat their exploits.
Mengo says, “As a team, we believed in ourselves. After the first game we played SA, I knew we could beat them in the finals.”
And so with the rest of Namibia and the world looking on, Mengo had to act ahead of time, “We changed the team’s structure in our second game against SA hence they scored more goals.”
“We had worked hard and sacrificed so much to be there, i.e. we went for training at 23hr00 the night before our finals against SA. Our unwavering commitment paid off, we became African Champions and qualified for the World cup at the end,” she reminisces.
At this moment Mengo and his team, under the watchful eye of the ablest coach Erwin Handura, have been preparing for two months now.
“We have held our first training camp successfully. Since then it has become tougher yet closer to the world cup”
“The final squad will be announced soon so that we can focus more on tactics. Every player is motivated and focused on the mission and task at hand,” she tells The villager Sport.
The trimming of the team to the required final 15 has not been easy, with every player itching to be a part of the history-making to the end.
“We are at 17 players now, but the 12 going to the world cup plus three non-travelling reserves will be announced this week. Everyone is nervous yet excited to be part of the team. We have become a unit and family after all,” she says excitedly.
She says her team has another week-long training camp coming up with an international coach that will be joining the Namibian Head Coach.
From there, the girls “will then partake in another tournament in Cape Town during the 1st or 2nd week of December 2017.”
“After the tournament, we will play a few games in Europe before the World cup. Besides that, we have intensive training in between. We are on course,’ Mengo says.
Despite the exasperations that come with getting an entire team to the ropes and the preparatory blast furnace Mengo says, “We are very much excited.”
At the same time, she observes that her development in hockey “was not an easy ride for me. I needed to run around and raise money/funds to be on tour with the different national teams.”
She says currently, Seaflower partnered with the senior women indoor hockey team and made things easier for them regarding financial constraints.
“I want to thank Seaflower for believing in us, and we will strive to be the best ambassadors for our country and Seaflower”
"Hockey is one of the sports codes that (are) growing fast and doing very well. But yet financially, it’s a challenge for each player to be part of this amazing sports code, e.g. hockey gear is quite expensive,” she says.
She is aware that hockey in Namibia is still very elitist yet she affirms that this does not spring from the presence of apathy on the part of the generality of young and old Namibians.
“It’s not a lack of interest. I think as per my previous comment it’s an issue of affordability. Secondly, hockey facilities are only available to schools in town, preferably in the suburbs
"We have rough diamonds out there; I believe we have talent which needs to be unearthed. I was one of those back in the years; I never stopped to believe, I think my brother and parents can testify to this. I had a vision and a goal. My coach (taught) me because he believed in me out of so much effort and support – THANK YOU Erwin Handura,” she says.
Whether the team makes it at the world cup or not, Mengo goes down in history as the captain that took Namibia there for the first time in history “not by default,” but a straight hard earned win.