Name: Clinton Panther
Test caps: 13
When did you make your debut and how did it feel?
I made my debut at the African Olympic Qualifier in Zimbabwe. We played against Morocco. It probably was the happiest hockey moment of my life, but I also felt more nervous than I had ever felt before. I was also very proud and a bit emotional, as it was an aim I had set out to achieve as a very young boy.
My most memorable achievement so far is winning the gold at the African Olympic Qualifier and receiving 3rd place at the Champs Challenge. A memory that I will always cherish is receiving a letter from my old high school, Michaelhouse, congratulating me on my selection into the SA team and all the phone calls and messages I received from family and friends.
What does Clinton do away from hockey?
I am currently studying B.Comm Finance at UJ and so spend most of my time on my studies. I especially enjoy a good braai with family and friends, where I can relax fully.
Playing overseas? If so, for whom and how has it been?
I went over to Belgium last year in September to play hockey for a club called Gantoise, and will be returning to Belgium in March. The standard of hockey in Belgium is far stronger than the local South African clubs. The training is also more intense. In Belgium I live in a house with five other guys, so you can imagine the fun that we have.
I like to play the occasional game of golf, if time permits. I try to follow a daily gym program, which I really enjoy. Real chill time is spent playing Fifa 12.
What would you say has been your toughest moment to date?
One of my toughest moments to date was last year, when I had to recover from concussion after getting a ball on the head. Staying away from hockey and any physical activity for 6 weeks was very tough. I am by nature an active person and I found it very difficult to remain quiet and inactive. I suffered from intense headaches, nausea and dizzy spells and had to write my varsity exams. Sitting on the bench as a spectator during games was very frustrating.
Who has been the toughest opposition to play against at international level and why?
Germany in my opinion are the toughest opposition I have come across so far. They are very fast and the aerial skills of the players in the German side are mind blowing.
Any nicknames and why were you given them?
My nickname is “The Incredible Hulk” as I gym a lot.
What is your feeling on the South African men’s hockey team’s progression in world hockey?
In order to progress and improve in any sport a team needs to be given the opportunity to play against stronger opposition. Most of the players in the South African men’s squad are currently playing at overseas clubs, where they are learning and gaining experience at an international level. As preparation leading up to the Olympic Games, SA hockey has arranged that we play a number of international games, both locally and overseas. I do believe that this exposure can only help to improve each and every player. The positive interest and dedication that we are receiving from our sponsors, management and from the public is not only promoting hockey but is also helping to energize the lads.
Any superstitions? During or after games?
I am not superstitious at all. I believe that what you put into the game is what you get out of the game. You need to be mentally prepared before a game and after a game you need to analyse what you did right and wrong, in preparation for the next game.
If you could change any dimension in your game, what would it be?
I depend very much on the comments from my team members during and after a game, as far as improvement or advice is concerned. I spend time going over the video analysis, specifically finding areas that I need to improve on. I am working on being more clinical in the “D”, as I feel that this is an area which I can definitely improve on.