National field hockey player Nora Struchtrup is thrilled to compete overseas in the junior world championships next month.
A huge part of the excitement though is focused on others – her coach and peers she grew up playing with. Struchtrup, a Willows elementary and Oak Bay High grad, now plays for the University of Victoria alongside former secondary school team co-captain Libby Hogg. Hogg, a defender who was named to the Field Hockey Canada Tournament 11 All-Star Team three consecutive years, is in pre-business studies at UVic. Forward Struchtrup is working toward an undergrad in sciences. Both are also members of the women’s U21 national team headed for the world cup in South Africa – where head coach Patrick Tshutshani was born and raised and hasn’t visited in more than two years.
“I’m excited to see him be home and see his family,” Struchtrup said. It’s a sentiment shared by her teammates. When they qualified for worlds, the players ran up to him chanting and cheering.
However, a handful of those players are off the roster for worlds. With a shift in age eligibility for the coming world cup, older players must drop off the roster. It does make room for some peers Struchtrup’s played with in the past.
“A bunch of my childhood teammates from the Island will get their first international cap in South Africa,” she said. Struchtrup herself played her first international game on Aug. 1 – her 19th birthday – at the Junior World Cup. A win over Chile in the semi-finals there clinched their position at worlds but they went on to win the tournament, defeating Uruguay.
Her personal goal for worlds is that the team makes the top eight, getting out of the pool phase of the competition – ironically featuring Uruguay, Belgium and England.
“I think we can do it and it would be pretty huge,” she said, noting field hockey tends to be a bottom tier sport in Canada while it’s the third most popular sport in the world.
The national program is self-funded and a trip to South Africa is pricey, especially during COVID-19, Struchtrup said. Players are fundraising to cover flights, accommodation (limited to two players to a room because of pandemic measures) and associated costs such as regular COVID-19 testing.
The Vikes women’s field hockey team is Canada West Field Hockey Champions, finishing 7-0-1 to claim the conference title for the third consecutive season.
The Junior World Cup takes place in Potchefstroom, South Africa Dec. 5 to 16 and each player has her own fundraising page to make the trip manageable. Support Hogg at bit.ly/3C1J8Ph or Struchtrup at bit.ly/3qvMWqd.
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