25 May 2012
Marsha Marescia will captain the best prepared South African women’s Olympic squad yet at the London Olympic Games. Now aged 29, she has been a member of the national team since 2001.
She made her debut in October of that year at the age of 18. Almost 11 years later, when she participates at the London Olympics, she will bring with her an impressive CV that includes attending two Olympic Games and two World Cups.
However, only in recent times, thanks to a sponsorship by Investec, has the South African women’s team been given the kind of backing to enable it to compete with the world’s leading teams. It has resulted in a growing maturity in the side and that has begun to translate into results on the field.
Qualified in style
The South African women’s hockey team qualified for the Olympic Games as African champions, but were required to also win an Olympic qualifying tournament in New Delhi, which they did in style, going through the event unbeaten and defeating hosts, India, 3-1 in the final.
Reflecting on the qualification of the team for the Games, Marescia told BuaNews: “The Olympic qualifier was a tough tournament for the Investec ladies’ hockey team. We had an intense preparation period with a number of international games, which paid off in the end as we entered the final being the most prepared team for the event.
“It was tough because psychologically each player knows that we would only get one chance to qualify. But once we had done it, we were thrilled.
‘We deserve to be in London’
“We feel that we deserve to be in London and our results prove it, and now that we have the chance to participate in London, we are looking forward to another tough tournament, but hope to do better than we have done at past Olympic Games.”
The opportunities created by Investec’s sponsorship, which have allowed for far more international participation than ever before is invaluable, Marescia said.
“The experience definitely helps us to focus on the job at hand. While we spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves, we also spend hours analysing the opposition and their structure, the style and their key players and set pieces.”
FIH All Star
Marescia, who plays her trade for Rotterdam in the elite Dutch league, is a player that leads from the front, setting an example for her team-mates to follow. That standard is a high one, which is underlined by her selection to the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) All Star team in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“On the field, I just want to play and make a difference,” she said. “Sometimes making the difference means being the supporter of the others when they are playing well and sometimes it means standing up and making the difference myself.
“Playing for South Africa is extremely special,” Marescia added. “It is something that I treasure and I will always work hard to ensure that I never miss out on the opportunity to put on the green and gold and sing our national anthem with pride.”
What drives South Africa’s captain? In the Mail and Guardian’s Book of Women, Marescia revealed her personal motto: “Deep within you lies a seed of greatness waiting to be germinated.”
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