The DHS Astro Turf

After a long and much awaited 18-month period, Durban High School celebrated one of the most historic and memorable evenings on Friday 17 February 2023 when our Blue & Gold AstroTurf was officially opened.

To say this has been a long time in the making is an understatement. However, what it is about to do, is elevate what is already known as an incredible hockey school to the next level.

It was a truly special evening which was attended by invited guests of the DHS Foundation, DHS, Maris Stella and Trellidor. The turf was officially opened by Mr AD Pinheiro (Head Master of DHS), Ms Joan Schmidt (Head Mistress of Maris Stella), Mr Peter Rawson (Marketing & Sales Director of Trellidor) and Mr Damian Judge (CEO of the DHS Foundation).

Three memorable fixtures took place between the DHS Staff and Trellidor Staff, the Maris Stella 1st XI vs Maris Stella Old Girls, with the final fixture being a true spectacle between the DHS 1st XI and DHS Old Boys.

Trevor Bennison – 12th Head Master of DHS shared his thoughts of the early years of hockey at DHS:

“With the opening of the Astro Turf at DHS in 2023 it is perhaps fitting to look at the origins of Hockey at DHS.

In the 1950s Rugby and Cricket were the two major sports at School. Several Old Boys were playing Hockey and had established a Hockey Section at the Club but were always short of players. This led to their appearance at School on a Friday afternoon in 1958 to introduce Hockey to interested boys, of which I was one.

The venue was the Sanford Top Field and Old Boys like John Gillespie, Ian Cadman, Bruce McBeth, Matthew McIver and Arthur Diamond presented boys with an assortment of sticks and tried to show them some of the basics of the game.

Matthew was the brother of the Head Master, Wilson McIver, which was probably the reason why Hockey received the Head Master’s blessing.

Games were held on Sundays at Queensmead and here in the depths of the 5th Division, schoolboys were initiated into the rigours of Men’s Hockey and soon became mainstays of the Club.

In later years, with Ken Tomlinson as Secretary, I became captain of Old Boys 1st XI and we worked together to get up to the top of the Second Division. Our top player was Chris Williamson who was the first DHS pupil to be given Honours for Hockey. However, we could not get into 1st Division because of lack of numbers.

With the success of Hockey, the concept of an Astro Turf on Top Field was often on the agenda but, despite the efforts of men like Chris Rein, it was never brought to fruition. However, the dream remained and will now be brought to reality in 2023.”

For what had been a construction site for nearly 18 months, the DHS Astro was finally unveiled on Friday 17 February 2023. A day that will forever be etched into the history books at DHS. The Astro was made possible by the assistance of The DHS Foundation Trust, Trellidor and Maris Stella, whom were all present on this momentous occasion.

DHS enjoyed a historic Hockey season for the year 2022. We produced no less than 37 KZN representatives from DHS throughout all age groups and had the most National representatives out of any school in KZN.

DHS U14B Indoor Hockey team made their own history by winning the KZN U14B League for the first time in School’s history! This was the first time ever that DHS had entered a B team into the league due to the depth that we now have in our Hockey Programme. The B team also enjoyed an unbeaten season in Field Hockey!

Our DHS U14A Indoor Hockey Team were crowned the Champions of the KZN Coastal Indoor Hockey Schools in 2022! The team produced a set of phenomenal results, and the statistics below speak huge volumes of the Hockey they produced.

In 2018, under the new Head Master, Mr A D Pinheiro, DHS employed a Director of Hockey, his name Michael Baker and what a master stroke this was.

Mr Michael Baker, our Director of Hockey here at DHS is the man behind the driving force producing continual success for our boys in not only their Hockey teams, but their own personal achievements. For those who know him, he is humble, down to earth, adventurous, dedicated beyond words and the respect the boys have for him is immense. Mr Baker was also selected as the trainer for SASHOC (South African Schools Hockey Association) U17 team in 2022.

What Michael has done for DHS hockey over the past five years in beyond comprehendible. He has grown DHS Hockey from four teams to twelve teams, and this without DHS’s own Astro turf. He has turned DHS Hockey from a ‘weekend walkover’ into one of the most formidable Hockey schools in KZN.

The dedicated team of coaches who support Mr Baker have also had incredible success in their personal capacity. Hockey Coach, Mr C Goodwin, was selected for the South African Men’s Indoor Hockey Team. The team took part in the Namibia Indoor Series. DHS Hockey Coach and Old Boy, Mr T Kelly-Stack was selected to take part in the first ever South African Men’s Hockey 5’s team who travelled to Egypt in December 2022. Mr I Manuel has also played a huge role with his passion and knowledge, always willing to go the extra mile and help the boys. There have been many other role players involved in recent years in building DHS Hockey to what it is today that we must mention: Mr T Bottomley, Mr H Siyaya, Mr J Flanagan and Mr S Sityana.

As we prepared for the launch on the Astro, we received the incredible news that Leruo Ditlhakanyane, who was selected as a 17-year-old for SA Schools U18A Hockey in 2022, had been invited to the SA U21 Camp held in January 2023.

We are delighted to celebrate the fact that for the first time in 156 years, we will soon be hosting our first ever fixture on home turf – on 18 March 2023 against St Charles.

We cannot wait to see what the future holds for our School’s Hockey!

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