There’s going to be a fair-sized hole to fill in the ranks of Jeppe hockey next year.
Callum Birkenfield, this year’s senior player of the year, is matriculating and after his three years in the first team; 98 first team games; two Boden Trophy and three Aitken Cup gold medals; and five years of provincial selection, it’s not going to be easy to replace him.
As a leader, and a loyal servant of Jeppe hockey, he has been without peer, and his solid presence in defence has been the rock on which the success of the first team has been built.
He captained the first team to Aitken Cup glory this year, and was also captain of the Southern Gauteng under-18A provincial team.
“It’s been a great five years,” he said. “When I arrived here from Hurlyvale Primary School in grade 8 I had never held a hockey stick. In the next five years hockey became one of the most important parts of my life.”
Callum was drafted into the first team as a grade 10 player, after leading the under-15s to Boden Trophy victory the year before, and he made the Southern Gauteng under-16A team that year.
“It’s been a great journey,” he said. “Being part of the Jeppe family and getting the support of the whole school has been fantastic, and those two Boden and three Aitken medals have been the highlights along the way.”
He believes hockey is the greatest school sport because it allows for interaction with players from other schools.
“I have made many friends and I know they are going to be long-term friendships as we carry on playing hockey with and against each other for many years to come.”
Next year it will be university hockey for him while he studies law, either at Wits or UJ.
His name will be heard again in hockey circles, that’s for sure. And he will leave a hole in Jeppe hockey, that’s for sure too.