2018 was a history making season for the St Kentigerns College 1st XI Hockey Team, for the first time in the 95-year history of Rankin Cup they were able to bring home the trophy. This year the St Kents team is looking just as formidable as they were last year having won the Auckland Championship where they beat Auckland Grammar 4-2 in the final. The only blemish on the teams season so far this season is a solitary loss to Rosmini. St Kents will aim to be the first team since Hamilton Boys in 2014 to go back to back at Rankin Cup.
St Kents are coached by Olympic Gold Medalist Ramesh Patel who answered our questions ahead of this year’s Rankin Cup and India Shield.
Q – What Challenges have the side faced this year?
A – No major challenges, the boys know that our team has 8 new players this year and that we are still working out new combinations.
Q – What are some of the traits of the side?
A – We are reasonably balanced on both attack and defence.
Q – What did the Rankin Cup win mean to the school?
A – The Rankin Cup win was enormously important for the school and the boys themselves. The boys will remember this for a lifetime. The majority of the boys had been in the 1stXI for either 3 or 4 years up to that point and so this was a result of hard work over a number of years.
Q – How important is the balance between sports and school?
A – The balance between sports and school work is vitally important. In fact school work should be the priority. We encourage the boys not to take part in more than 6 hockey sessions (trainings and competition) per week whether it be school hockey, club hockey or rep hockey.
Q – How long have you been involved with this side?
A – I have been the sole coach of the 1st XI Boys for the last two years (2018 and 2019) but I had been involved with the 1st XI boys 6 years previous to that as their assistant coach and advisor. Chris Dowdle had been the head coach up to 2018.
Q – What is the teams goals for Rankin Cup in 2019
A – I have for a long time admired secondary school teams who consistently get into the top 12, our long term goal is to become a consistent top 6 team at Rankin Cup. Our aim this year is top 8 initially which is never easy, and then after that any team will be capable of winning the Rankin Cup.
Saint Kents are captained by Josh Child and Kervin Guttenbeil who have both recently been selected in the 2019 National Under 18 sides.
Q – What are the team’s goals for tournament this year?
A – At the 2019 Rankin Cup tournament we hope to put forward our best performance possible, and consequently exit the tournament a tighter side; on and off the turf. Our main goal is to focus on the processes and the result will take care of itself.
Q – What challenges have the side had to overcome this year?
A – Integrating new players into the squad has been a new experience for us due to the consistency in our team personnel over the past years. Despite this challenge I feel like we have done so very well and have created a welcoming environment for these 8 new players.
Q – How significant was the first Rankin Cup win to your school’s hockey program?
A – Our 2018 Rankin Cup win meant everything to us as a school hockey program. Going forward into the 2019 season, with big shoes to fill, we are hoping to back up last year’s performance as best we can. Looking forward into the future of St Kents hockey we are hoping that this Rankin Cup win was the first of many, and that our hard work will carry forward to future sons and daughters of Kentigern.
Q – What separates your team from some of the other ones throughout the country?
A – Our team has been able to develop a strong bond both on and off the field. For many of us it’s our fifth year of school hockey playing side by side. Our strong connections combined with a great coach allows us to perform at a high quality. While we have individuals who are very skilful, we make this effective with our team structure and game sense. Our team doesn’t rely on certain players to perform in order to win games and rather everyone who is on the team.
Q – What does representing your school mean to you?
A – School pride is evident in many of our school sports. For me personally, representing Saint Kentigern with key values is most important. I play to earn the respect this school deserves from other opposing schools. I want to come off the turf knowing that I’ve done all that I can do to work for my team especially. Saint Kent’s is a highly honoured school in both sports and academics, so I see it as my duty to fulfil our high expectations.
Saint Kents will begin their defence of the Rankin Cup when they take on Pakuranga College on September 2nd
2 September vs Pakuranga College at 9:40am
2 September vs Paraparaumu at 5:20pm
3 September vs Burnside High School at 1:20pm