Abrahamse, a coordinator and an academic coach at the Centre for Student Support Services, was appointed as the manager of the team for the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) tournament that will take place on the African continent for the first time when South Africa plays host at North-West University in Potchefstroom from 5-16 December.
Her job as the “momager”, as she describes herself “because I’m the mommy of the team”, entails ensuring that the athletes are well looked after and that logistics, such as booking of flights and accommodation, transport and being the communications person between the team and the tournament officials, are managed.
“As much as they are athletes, they are also humans first, and the aim of the team is to see the person first before the athlete,” Abrahamse (pictured) said after the squad announcement on 11 November.
“The team has an added challenge of being student athletes, and that is a unique situation that comes with a unique set of pressures. Working in a tertiary environment helps me to better understand the type of pressures my student athletes have. For instance, when we go to the World Cup some of them will still have online exams to write. Managing things like that and managing their wellbeing, and being a voice for them, is an important part of my job.”
The mother of two children has always been passionate about hockey since she started playing the sport at primary school. Although she represented junior provincial teams, she believed that her hockey venture took off at the coaching and management levels.
Having taught at The Settlers High School in Bellville for 14 years prior to joining UWC in 2020, Abrahamse has always been involved in schools’ hockey and started management of provincial teams in 2000, from Under-14 to the seniors. In 2019 she was asked to be involved with the national Under-21 ladies, and the World Cup will be her biggest task.
Abrahamse believes hockey is making inroads in addressing historical imbalances.
“Our coach [Lenise Marais] is a female of colour, which is quite significant if you look at our former national coaches in the South African national hockey set up, particularly for women. She is a former player herself and that, in itself, is good. Our mandate is to have 50-50 racial representation, but we always strive for more. And what is nice at this stage is that they pick themselves. We don’t have to look around for players of colour in order to make a transformation target because of the development that is happening at school level, which makes these players organically move on to the next level.
“For instance, many of these girls played in the Under-18 team that made history and won a series against Australia in 2018. Two of them were part of the Olympic team in Tokyo earlier this year, and this bodes well for the future of South African hockey. We have such a diverse team with kids coming from all parts of the country, from different population groupings and religions. What I am excited about is that the young people of South Africa will see people who look like them, and thereby feel represented”.