In March next year 36 boys and five staff members will embark on the adventure of a lifetime – the 2019 Jeppe High School for Boys hockey tour to Singapore and Malaysia.
The 1st team and a 2nd/under-16 team will be going and they will play eight matches each in what promises to be the toughest hockey challenge the players will face in their careers so far.
“We will be playing against hockey academy sides in Malaysia,” Jeppe’s director of hockey, Brian Hillock explained, “they are basically provincial teams, in a hockey-mad country, so it isn’t going to be easy. But we have a very talented group of boys coming through and I believe this sort of tour is exactly what we need ahead of the domestic season that follows it.”
It’s been a year since the school gave the hockey section permission to go ahead with the tour and they have been working hard at organising and preparing for it ever since.
“Overseas travel isn’t cheap, so fund-raising has been mainly what we have been doing so far,” Mr Hillock explained. “The idea is that whatever is collected by a boy, or on his behalf, comes off his payment and the boys have risen to that challenge and worked very hard.”
There are golf days and advertising in the tour brochure is being sold. Those boys who cannot afford to pay anything towards the costs will be taken care of by other funding including the Hockey Patrons Association, the Theo Jackson Foundation and donations from parents and old boys.
It’s going to be two weeks of intense hockey, but there will also be time for sight-seeing and relaxing as well as a number of educational excursions.
“We believe the trouble and expense will be worth it,” Mr Hillock said. “It’s going to be a learning experience for the boys and especially for the coaches who will be exposed to different tactics and different ways of preparing teams.
“Overseas travel broadens the mind and there will be plenty of opportunities for our boys to mingle with others from different cultures.
“Jeppe has become one of the leading hockey schools in the country and we believe we have to provide this sort of extra incentive and enrichment to our players to maintain our edge,” Mr Hillock said. “This is the second time the school is going to the East and the plan is to make it a two-yearly event.”
The squads have already been chosen and they are already in training. They have weekly gym and fitness sessions at the moment and will be moving to once weekly practices next term.
“By January they will be in full training and we will begin playing warmup games in February.”
Part of the success of Jeppe’s hockey section is the fact that it is a close community in which everyone works together, with the HPA and the staff leading the way.
The 2019 tour to Singapore and Malaysia underlines that. It’s going to help Jeppe hockey stay on top in the years to come.