Bonnet on how to improve | SASCOC - SASCOC

Bonnet on how to improve

By Mark Etheridge

Newly appointed national women’s hockey coach Giles Bonnet says his first task will be to get South Africa back in line with world class levels in all aspects of the sport.

Bonnet was this week named by Hockey South Africa to replace former coach Jenny King.

“This will be the biggest challenge… as a staff we must avoid making concessions or excuses and create an environment in which the players continue to drive themselves to reach new performance levels.”

Bonnet, a former national player for South Africa is currently coaching the men’s squad at the Pinoke Club in Amsterdam and has also coached extensively in the east.

Also a priority will be to get the national programme up and running again. “It’s been static since the Champions Challenge in November of 2009 so the challenge will be to focus on creating a medium to long term sustainable program, giving clarity to players as to expectations in the upcoming two-year period and put in place processes to manage the contact moments and interventions between projects.

Bonnet’s appointment is itself a project, as due to financial constraints, the national body are unable to offer long-term contracts.

He returns to South Africa on a fairly regular basis — especially during the northern hemisphere winters — and was last in the country in January.

“I have been following the results and performances of both national teams and at major events have had the opportunity of seeing one or both of the SA teams play. I’ve also kept abreast of new emerging players and have followed the development of the teams over an extended period.

“In January of this year I was approached to see if there was interest from my side to consider this position by SA Hockey. In the last three months a lot of discussions and planning has taken place. ┬áThe intent was there effectively from January of this year and both parties needed to work through the detail.”

And has he kept up to date with developments around the women’s side. “All the statistics are available and I’ve also seen the team play on many occasions over the past four years. But due to the static program we have lost ground against equally ranked world teams and will be looking to close this gap as quickly as possible. I am very realistic about the timing of this process.

In this first intervention I will be looking to focus on the strengths of the players and team and in building the set pieces, ┬áespecially the specialist skills required in these disciplines.”

The first overseas tour by the squad is going to be a particularly gruelling one but Bonnet is well aware of this.

The squad head off for a three-week tour to China, a venue that Bonnet is well acquainted with having coached the men’s and women’s teams of the Lion Ning province.

“┬áLio Ning won gold medals with both their hockey teams, which was a historic moment as this has never been achieved before.

In Lio Ning we had 11 of the Chinese national silver medal team and in our build up we played against Korea and Japan, which gives me a good insight into these teams especially for the World Cup as Korea and China will both be in SA’s pool.”
If the players can get through the Chinese tour they’ll be well equipped to cope with any future curve-balls.

“We have catered for 23┬átwo-hour training sessions,┬áas well as 12 Test matches in a three week period. For the players it will be an exhausting and mentally demanding stage. We are staying at our request at the National Training centre in Beijing which is 100 metres from the hockey fields, so ideal for the stage that we have envisaged.

“The selection has been broadened to allow for competition and this policy will continue to be followed as we go forward. China gives the opportunity of setting standards in training intensity, expectations on mentality and individual performance, assessment and introduction of new technical skills, the start of a process to introduce an aggressive playing style both with and without the ball, and to set and share a collective vision for the future.”