Anche’s journey from player to manager

From the extremely driven, high-performance player to the social player and their supporters, one and all must feel and be welcome at the Maties hockey club. 

This is Anche Nortje, Maties Sport’s hockey club manager’s vision for one of Stellenbosch University’s long-standing sporting clubs: Maties Hockey. 

Anche’s journey with Maties Hockey started in 2004. “I was a BA Sports Science student. The competition for places in the first team was incredibly strong in my first year. I initially played for Vics (Maties’ second team) and was very privileged to be able to participate in the USSA tournament that year as well. Shortly afterwards I played my first game for Maties 1 and for the next eight years I was a player for the club,” says Anche. 

She started working at the club in 2015 as an assistant. At that stage it was only a half-day job. In time, however, she expanded on her skills and became involved as a coach at the club. She was coach of the Vics women’s team in 2017 and 2018. In 2019 and 2020 she was still with Vics, but then also Maties 1’s assistant coach. And in 2021 she largely focused on her role as assistant coach for Lenise Marais. 

Although these roles certainly kept her busy, she did not hesitate to take on more tasks on the administrative side of the club. However, she never thought of making one of the most prestigious positions at Maties Sport her own. 

“In 2021 I was appointed permanently as the Club coordinator and in that role, I had more responsibility, and I was able to develop the necessary skills which are of crucial importance in my new role. The promotion became more of a reality when I had to start acting as manager in April 2022.” 

With her permanent appointment earlier this year, Anche follows in the footsteps of legendary Maties Sport figures such as Jackie Wiese, Jilly Dix, Jenny King and most recently Reggie Smith. 

Despite the big shoes of her predecessors at Maties Hockey, Anche is not overwhelmed by the challenge and has clear goals and a vision for the club that has been named Maties Sport’s Club of the Year several times at the annual awards. 

“I want Maties Hockey Club to be a club for everyone. There are so many former Maties who had good memories at the club long before me and there will be new players who will make memories long after me. It is important for me to create a space for students, parents, Alumni, brothers/sisters and staff, where everyone is and feels welcome. Where you can enjoy the sport because it is of high quality, but also a place where being together and hanging out will be remembered for a long time. It is with sport that one builds relationships and develops so many social skills. May the Maties hockey club be a place for everyone where they can just be themselves, develop, play to their full potential on the Astro and build friendships away from the Astro.” 

When it comes to legends – not only for Maties Hockey, but also for South African hockey – there is no shortage of heroes at the club. For Anche it was players like Kate Woods (Hector) and Tarryn Bright. 

However, she adds: “To be honest, it’s also incredibly fun for me when I sit in my office and watch players from different teams come to collect balls to practice their skills on the Astro. These are the players who give everything for the sport so that when they pull the maroon shirt over their heads on Saturday, they can be their best selves for the team.” 

Maties Hockey has a rich tradition and illustrious history and according to Anche the Alumni play a big role in this. 

“It’s really nice for me when I meet someone who tells me how much fun it was to play hockey for Mates and how much they enjoyed their time at the club. This is what motivates me.”