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20 December 2021 | in FISU Athletes

Namibian student heading to the Indoor Hockey World Cup

“It felt surreal.” That’s the only way Namibian hockey player Jivanka Kruger could describe her emotions after receiving the phone call all athletes dream about from their coach – a call up to the national squad to participate in the biggest stage of them all, the Indoor Hockey World Cup.

 

Growing up in Namibia’s capital Windhoek, Jivanka always had an affinity towards sport, trying out swimming, netball, tennis, and gymnastics, in which she even represented her country at the 2014 Youth Olympics. However, during her primary school years, she was introduced to a new sport: hockey.

 

 

“I started playing hockey at the age of 12, playing with boys as my primary school did not have a girls’ team,” she tells FISU. “I just really enjoyed the physicality of hockey and being able to play with a stick and ball. Doing trampoline gymnastics, I never got the feeling of a team environment and hockey filled that gap for me.”

 

She turned out to be a natural talent, rising through the ranks and impressing the national selectors as she was handed her debut for the Namibian national outdoor team in 2015, while still in high school.

 

Despite her sporting prowess, a disciplined and determined Kruger decided to continue her academic career after high school, making the brave decision to leave her country of birth to take up a course in biokinetics at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, where hockey came to her aid, both on and off the field.

 

“I really struggled adapting to the city life in my first year,” she admits. “But after making the hockey first team, I immediately made some friends and Johannesburg just grew on me. My experience from the get-go with the university was great, as I really enjoyed my studies and everything UJ had to offer, and hockey was just a bonus.”

 

At UJ, she found herself in a city which hosts one of the biggest premier hockey leagues in South Africa, with her university team participating in both the local league across the calendar year, as well as the annual university tournaments.

 

Playing both outdoor and indoor hockey, she grew from strength to strength, was named captain of her university team, and in April this year, was called up to represent Namibia in the Indoor World Cup qualifiers, the self-proclaimed highlight of her career so far. She played a prominent role in helping her country qualify for next year’s Indoor Hockey World Cup, taking place in Liège, Belgium in February, and last month was named in the final squad that will be representing Namibia on the global stage.

 

“When I received the phonecall from our coach I had lots of mixed emotions, and I was not sure about what to expect,” she reflects. “Giving it a day or two, I then started processing the news. It's always an honor and privilege to represent my country, and to be able to do this on an international level. I am ecstatic for the next few months of preparation before leaving for the Indoor World Cup in Belgium.”

 

The World Cup will kick off what Jivanka hopes will be an exciting and event-filled 2022.

 

“I'm not sure what the future holds, as I take it day by day, but 2022 has got some exciting hockey tournaments, both indoor and outdoor, and I would love to represent my country for the upcoming years,” she says. “As I'm also stepping into the adult world and pursuing my career in biokinetics I want to flourish in this part of my life as well.”  


Her choice to study biokinetics aligned with her personality in wanting the best for those around her. The final-year student admits balancing sport and study has often been a challenge, but understands the importance of having a degree behind her name.

“I chose the field of biokinetics as I've always wanted to help people live a better life and just work with people in general as I'm a people-person,” she says. “Time management is key in balancing my sports and studies, and I always try to plan ahead and stick to my plan. Sometimes I have to sacrifice my sport for studies and vice-versa, but this is all about priorities. "

 

“I think in today's society, it really is very difficult to get a job, with or without a qualification. Not everyone has the opportunity to study towards a degree and if you get the opportunity and know what you want to be one day, grab it with both hands.” 

 

Still just 24, Kruger has a bright future in front of her, which she is certain will include sport is some form or the other.

 

“I think I'll always be an athlete, whether it's competing internationally or not, but I do want to strive in my career as a biokineticist and maybe one day do my master’s degree,” she says. “I love running as a sport and hopefully when I hang up my boots one day, I'll be able to be successful in this.” 

 

 

Photos supplied by Jivanka Kruger

 

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