Road to London: Marsha Marescia

2012-06-22 10:38

Cape Town - In the 14th in a series of Q 'n A style interviews with South African sportsmen and women ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Graeme Joffe chats to SA women's hockey captain, Marsha Marescia.

Road to London: Bridgette Hartley

Road to London: Kate Woods

Road to London: Cameron van der Burgh
Road to London: Mbulaeni Mulaudzi

Road to London: Gideon Sam

Road to London: Marcus Retief

Road to London: Freedom Chiya

Road to London: Irvette van Blerk

Road to London: Chad le Clos

Road to London: LJ van Zyl

Road to London: Marc Mundell

Road to London: Kate Roberts

Road to London: Lawrence Ndlovu

Road to London: Jean Greeff

GRAEME JOFFE: Been nothing short of remarkable what the SA hockey teams have achieved over the last few months. Both men’s women’s teams qualifying for London. Marsha Marescia, what a great last week for you girls again, the Investec Cup in London. You lost 6-2 to Germany in playoff for third but that wasn’t a fair reflection of the game.
MARSHA MARESCIA: Yes I think on that game with Germany, the scoreline was definitely not a true reflection of the game. Statistically we were the better team but I think that our experience or lack thereof of playing for a medal playoff position, probably came through in that game. So, I think the week was really successful for us as it gives us a lot of confidence and motivation in training for the Olympics after doing so well.

JOFFE: You beat Great Brittan in the tournament and then lost to the Dutch in a penalty shootout and if I’m not mistaken the Dutch are the Olympic Champions.
MARESCIA: Yes, they are and currently number one in the world as well.  We didn’t do ourselves any favours in the first few minutes of that game against the Dutch but we were really proud to come back. Then to lose in the penalty shootout, the girls were gutted.

JOFFE: Personal achievement for you as well, named player of the tournament.
MARESCIA: Yes, I think it is a fantastic achievement and was a huge surprise because when you are competing against the top three teams in the world, you really don’t expect the Player of the Tournament to come from the lowest ranked team there.  I am really happy about it but it was a real team effort.

JOFFE: What lies now between now and the Olympics?
MARESCIA: Well we depart for Europe early July and we will play two internationals. Then we head off to Germany to play in the Four Nations Tournament, then back to South Africa for two and a half days, where we do our final prep with Team South Africa. Then depart for the Olympics.

JOFFE: Having played all these games against tough opposition including Germany who are in same group at the Olympics, you guys know exactly what to expect in London?
MARESCIA: Yes, that’s correct, and I think that it is fantastic that we are getting the opportunity to play against them, and if I look at our qualifier in India, the reason why we were so successful in that final, against India, is because we had so much experience playing against them. All this experience that we are racking up against top teams that are in our pool, at the Olympic Games is just going to be beneficial for us.

JOFFE: You’ve been playing league hockey in Holland – are the SA girls now becoming professional hockey players?
MARESCIA: Well we are semi pro (laughter) but there were eight of us playing in the Dutch League this season and basically we played for different clubs in the highest League there. So, we got to compete against all the Dutch International players, as well as some of the German Internationals that also participate in the League. It really is professional in the Netherlands and it is fantastic to be part of that experience.

JOFFE: With some of the top international players that you have played with or played against, Pietie Coetzee must be right up there.
MARESCIA: Ja, I think it is absolutely fantastic and so amazing that the all-time leading goal scorer in women's international hockey comes from South Africa. It is always great to have her on your team, she is phenomenal. I mean to take five years leave and to come back be on top of her game in the way she is and to be very professional in the way that she has handled herself and, always produce the goods for us. I think that is absolutely fantastic and a lot of the girls in the team just look up to her and take a lot and learn a lot from her and hopefully in the future, we will produce another Pietie Coetzee.

JOFFE: Speaking about somebody that you look up to, I know your mom is someone you really look up to. Marion Marescia was a brilliant player, she also played a big part in bridging unity between separate apartheid hockey bodies and now is top school coach.
MARESCIA: Yes, she definitely is. She is always offering sound advice and I really admire her for all that she has achieved as well. She is so passionate about hockey and in fact I think there were eight girls that were part of our squad of 22 that she has actually coached at junior levels. So, I think she can be proud of the girls that come through her coaching.

JOFFE: What is the one big message that she has always imparted onto you for your hockey career?
MARESCIA: Well, I think she has always, as long as I love the game I will do well. So, she has always encouraged me to just enjoy it as much as possible and always just pushed me to go for more if I wanted, then I must go for it.

JOFFE: What does Marsha Marescia do in her spare time?
MARESCIA: Well I am a typical girl and enjoy walking around shopping malls …

JOFFE: Just walking, no buying?
MARESCIA: Well, retail therapy is always good, but on a hockey player’s salary, we can't always spend. (laughter). I also enjoy spending time with my friends, so when I am back home I try to see as many of my friends as possible and you know, do really chilled out things, like meeting for coffee. 

JOFFE: Where did you grow up and how did you get started playing hockey?
MARESCIA: I grew up in Durban and my mom obviously was very involved in hockey, so we grew up on the side of a hockey field. I think that is where my love for the game just developed and when I got to high school, hockey was my first choice and I never ever looked back.

JOFFE: A tough question but what are the medal chances for SA women’s hockey team in London?
MARESCIA: I don’t think that we would say that we are medal hopefuls as we are the lowest ranked team in our pool. But we have bridged the gap between ourselves and the top teams and in top sports and on the day, anything can happen. We are going to go out to make sure that, or try to make sure that it goes in our favour on the day.

JOFFE: Marsha, great chatting to you. Congratulations on what you guys have already achieved so far, “double qualification” and hopefully you guys bring back a medal as well.
MARESCIA: Thank you so much Graeme, keep your fingers crossed.

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 169 and streaming worldwide on Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy

Marsha Marescia, 29, was a member of the national squad that finished ninth at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Marescia was born in Durban, and is nicknamed Nator. She plays for the Southern Gauteng provincial team.

Marsha Marescia in action for South Africa (Gallo Images)