Goalkeepers, it’s generally accepted, are a bit strange, and given the dangerous nature of the game, hockey goalkeepers must be among the strangest of all.
Yet, that’s what Wandre Van den Berg is – a hockey goalkeeper. And he’s a very good one. The Boden Cup final this year was a tightly contested affair against Jeppe, there were many heroes in the King Edward team that won it, but the goalkeeper should be singled out. It ended in a penalty shootout and it was Wandre’s thwarting of Jeppe’s final attempt that sealed it for his team.
“That save was against a good friend of mine – we played for South Gauteng together last year, so I really enjoyed it, and I couldn’t help giving him a word about it afterwards,” he said.
The hockey penalty shootout is something he really enjoys. “You have a chance as a goalkeeper, unlike when you face a penalty flick. There are only eight seconds and you have to outwit the shooter, and stand up strong, I enjoy that.”
Wandre came to King Edward last year from Monument Primary He was experiencing problems at home and going into the hostel was a good thing for him, he believes. His marks improved from those in primary school, and he began to enjoy going to school.
His mother has moved closer to the school since and he lives at home now.
“I get a bit of help in maths, but I’m getting 60s and 70s in my subjects now,” he said. “And the hockey has been great. We did very well as under-14As last year and although there is no under-15 age group most of us are together in the under-16B team now, and it was basically last year’s under-14A team that won the Boden.”
He takes his hockey very seriously. He gets specialised goalkeeping coaching every week and is hoping to make the Southern Gauteng under-16 team this year. “I’m in the final trials and even though I’m still under-15 I think I have a chance,” he said.
The KES under-16Bs are having a great season. They haven’t lost and have scored 70 goals in 15 games, conceding just 6. “We have become a tight unit and are close friends in the team,” he said. “I am really enjoying playing for the team.”
Wandre is acutely aware of the opportunities he has been given, through the Tag Foundation, by attending a school like King Edward. “We are very fortunate to be at a school like this. I know I must use the chances I get. My advice to others would be not to waste them.”
That’s mature, clear thinking from an impressive young man, even if does enjoy having people hit small balls at high speeds at him!