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George surprised at win

Western Province’s Austin Smith and Free State’s Lesle-Ann George have been rewarded for their fine achievements in 2010 by being named SA Hockey Players of the Year at a function in Durban, writes Mark Etheridge.

George, who was also named University of the Free State sports woman of the year, said this week that the award had come out of the blue. “It means so much because it really came as such a surprise,” she said from Bloemfontein.

Possibly the surprise was because of her time away from the game. “I only started playing international hockey again since June this year. I didn’t actually retire, I was just unavailable for selection since after the Beijing Olympics the reason being that the passion wasn’t there so I wasn’t expecting anything.”

Twenty-five-year-old George has 105 caps to her name and the midfielder is a key part of the SA women’s set-up under new coach Giles Bonnet.

“My highlight thus far was the Commonwealth Games when the team did exceptionally well and also being part of such an exciting phase in SA hockey. For now my short term goal is to compete well in our up and coming series against Argentina in December.

“This is the second time I’ve been blessed to win this award I last won it back in 2006 so I’m truly grateful as there were so many players in the team that were deserving of this award!”

Former Capetonian Smith now plays in the Netherlands and captains the South African men’s team. Last year he was named in the World All Star side, testimony to his great talent.


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