Recently, the LEAP Worldwide team had the chance to chat with South African goalie Marlise van Tonder. Marlise has been playing for Tuks Hockey since 2013 and has traveled to different countries, like Chile and Namibia, to compete with South Africa’s women’s U21 team. Just this February, she made her debut as a member of the South African Women’s National Team! As a 19-year-old goalie, this marks a truly impressive honor to receive a cap at such a young age. Recalling this moment, Marlise said, “It was absolutely amazing! Of course, the nerves were high, but it was something I had dreamed about and worked towards for quite some time. It was an experience like no other. It was a huge honour to represent my country and it was a dream come true for me.” It’s most definitely a very exciting time for this South African up-and-comer!
Though Marlise hasn’t yet played abroad, she tells us she is interested in the prospect. As a result, she downloaded the LEAP Worldwide app, because she has, “always wanted to play overseas and experience hockey in different places. I made the decision to make a profile so I can look at options after I am done with my studies.” She reckons getting exposure abroad will take her hockey game to the next level, and we are excited to connect her with the coaches and clubs where she’ll find the experience that is perfect for her! As for now, her dream club is SCHC Stichtsche in the Netherlands, which happens to be the club where Maddie Hinch, an Olympic Gold Medalist and voted World Best Female Keeper of the Year (2016), is currently taking a year to play!
While traveling to compete for South Africa, Marlise has managed to collect some funny memories having to do with language and cultural mix-ups. One such story took place while she was in Chile for the Junior World Cup, during which some of her teammates tried very hard to learn Spanish. She tells us, “One of my teammates was particularly good with languages and picked it up fairly quickly. She ran into some trouble when a waiter at a restaurant overestimated her Spanish and started a full-blown conversation with her. Not expecting this, she panicked and said ‘I left the stove on’ in Afrikaans, and walked out of the restaurant.” Though it can sometimes lead to emergency exits such as that of Marlise’s teammate, taking your sport abroad allows players to experience truly authentic immersion with another culture, and the joys and new perspectives of such an experience are truly invaluable.
Marlise left us with some insightful advice for those considering an abroad experience. Her message: “Grab that opportunity with both hands. If you are looking to advance your hockey and get to the top level, this will definitely give you another building block. Playing in a different environment gives you a new perspective on things and helps you to grow both as a player and a person. An opportunity like that does not always come again.” Marlise has seen many members of the South African National Team succeed in this very thing: they went for a stint abroad and returned with new skill sets, stories, friends, and so much more. Here at LEAP, we believe it is time that players are empowered with the tools to go after those athletic opportunities in other countries and make the most of it, and we are passionate in aiding this process.
Congratulations to Marlise for her first cap, and we thank her for taking the time to talk with us about her experience! We look forward to connecting her with the perfect LEAP when it’s time for her to consider her next hockey move. To keep up with Marlise’s journey, and stay connected with the LEAP Worldwide team, sign up to be a part of the always-growing international sports network. Plus, look out for an upcoming post where we meet some of Marlise’s teammates. More on Team South Africa coming soon! Click and stay connected!