Thursday, June 19, 2014
Sidmouth and Ottery Hockey Club coach Gus McVey is back in East Devon after a two-week stint as coach to the Zimbabwe Masters team competing in the Masters World Cup in Rotterdam, Holland.
Prior to the competition McVey took a phone call from the Zimbabwe Hockey Board. Given that he retains strong ties with the country it did not take him long to answer the call to go and coach the masters team in the tournament!
His task was to take control of the men’s Over-40s team and also act as consultant to the Zimbabwe and South African ladies’ Over-45 team.
McVey said: “At first I was a bit apprehensive with the massive responsibility as the team were coming from world wide and had never played together some only having picked up sticks six months ago after ten years. I had four players come in from Australia, two from Dubai and the rest from Zimbabwe. They were all self-funded so the pressure of results came into play. All the players have played international hockey before so the job of gelling the team was a big factor with only four days before the opening match against the power house Germany, followed by Scotland and then Italy. The team worked hard adapting well to the hot wet conditions and the different surfaces they were to play on.”
In the first game, played in front of a huge crowd, Zimbabwe lost 6-1 to a very experienced and clinical Germany 6-1. Later the same day they returned to the pitch for match two and, at one stage, led Scotland 2-0 before going down by the odd goal in five.
They then took on Italy and, after a very physical game, won 4-0. At the completion of the pool rounds McVey had to leave his charges to return for work at Bicton College.
In his absence the team played a quarter-final tie against the worlds best in their age group, Australia. Four goals down at half-time, Zimbabwe came back well with two of their own before being beaten 7-2.
They finally played South Africa to decide who finished seventh and eight and lost this match 7-1. However, the fact they finished eighth was not lost on McVey who said: “So we finished in the top eight in the world for the Over-40s age group, which, in its own right, is an amazing achievement considering we all got together just four days before the tournament started! I am so very proud to have been able to be an active and contributing part of an amazing experience.”
When asked about his future, McVey smiled and said: “I am at the moment, but anything is possible! I am coaching for England Hockey at one of the regional centres starting at the end of June. On top of that I am also preparing for the coming club season with Sidmouth and Ottery Ladies.”