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An eye on the Games

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Kimberley-born Ashley Datnow is enjoying her time with national hockey side

Proteas Womens hockey player Ashley Datnow in action.

Kimberley born and raised Ashley Datnow, an alumnus of Northern Cape High school is within touching distance of her long-time dream of playing hockey at the highest level.

Currently, she is part of the Proteas Women’s squad that is preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games and already has been part of two national team camps this year.

Adapted pretty well

Ashley has always been keen on the game, so much so that she even, as a young girl, dreamed of one day turning out for the SA Women’s National team. To this end, Ashley transferred to Eunice High school in Bloemfontein in Grade 11.

The young Ashley struggled with the adjustment at first but eventually adapted pretty well. Things started taking shape for her when she was selected for the first team at Eunice in major school tournaments that she previously only watched on TV wishing for the opportunity to play there one day.

When she actually had the opportunity to play on the big stage Ashley was star-struck, but the team coach pushed the team to their limits for which the young player says she’ll forever be grateful.

“Coach Desmond Donald, thank you for all the effort you put into developing me from a grass hockey player to where I am today,” she said.

During her matric year in 2014, she made the Free State A team and played in her first Inter-Provincial Tournament (IPT), which was one of the goals that she set herself in making the move to Eunice. She was then selected to SA School’s team at the end of that IPT as a reserve for the Under-18 Australian series that followed.

Not only an achiever on the hockey field, Ashley then followed her other passion and completed her tertiary education at the University of Johannesburg, where she played in her first Varsity Cup Tournament and helped her team to the gold medal.

She was then selected to the Southern Gauteng Under-21 A side, and bronze at the IPT, but then her season was cut short following a series of injuries. Not one to sit still for long, during her recovery Ashley then fell in love with road running and to date has completed five Two Oceans half-marathon and a number of other long-distance races.

Coming back from injury she made the Southern Gauteng Women’s A side but this was soon followed by what would have been the biggest achievement of her career – she was called to try out for the SA Under-21 Junior World Cup team. Ashley did make the last selection squad but ultimately did not make the team which, obviously was a massive disappointment for her.

A disappointed Ashley admitted that she then needed a break from the game, but in 2017 she made a comeback to the game. However, this time she refocused and just enjoyed playing hockey without pushing herself to make any teams.

It was then that she realized that when you just enjoy the game and free your mind great things will naturally follow. She made the SA Under-21 team and was selected for her first Commonwealth Women’s National Selection camp.

Just being part of the squad was a great honour, she said, even though she did not make the final 18, but the important thing is she was enjoying hockey and was playing to the best of her ability at the time.

Over last year’s December holidays Ashley put in many hours to ensure that she would be fit and ready for the start of the 2019 season hoping to make the squad for the 2020 Olympic Games. Preparations by the squad started with a selection camp on January 15 followed by a second camp in February and she is hoping to make the final 26 to be selected for Spain and the Africa qualifiers later this year

Ashley told the DFA that it is an honour to be part of this squad and said that she is extremely grateful of having the opportunity to be a member of the Proteas Women’s Hockey squad, adding that she’s even grateful for all the ups and downs and the journey travelled throughout her childhood.

She says her childhood dream of being part of the Proteas has finally been realised and she feels she is truly blessed.