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Stellenbosch University (SU)­­ and South Africa (SA) will be represented in the upcoming Junior World Cup by star Maties hockey players Laylaa Davids and Caylin Maree. 

Davids and Maree were recently selected for the u. 21 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AFCON) team, which is set to participate in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Junior World Cup hosted in Potchefstroom from 1 to 12 April. The team is set to play against the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Ireland. 

Davids, a third-year BCom (Marketing Management) student, and Maree, a second-year BA (Humanities) student, are well aquainted with each another, both on and off the field. 

They have been playing against each other since 2017 and were brought together as a duo when they both played in the  SA u. 21 team in the Dutch Series tournament, which took place in 2020. In the time that they have known each other, they have become good friends and incredibly supportive of each other. 

“What I love most about playing with one of my friends is that we don’t only have a relationship on the field, but we have a great relationship off the field as well, and we can take that into our game,” said Maree. 

Davids said that she has built many good friendships over the years through playing hockey, and it has taught her valuable life skills such as teamwork and communication.

They have both shown great versatility as players. Davids can play either midfielder or link on the astro turf, whilst Maree can play striker, midfielder and, “when push comes to shove”, she can play defence too. 

Their achievements have given both players the opportunity to reflect on what hockey means to them and how it has shaped their lives. “I like that I get to express myself freely on the field. It’s like a breakaway from reality for me and it maintains the balance in my life,” said Davids.

Upon hearing that she was selected to participate in the tournament, Davids experienced mixed emotions. Her initial response was that of shock and then overwhelming gratitude. “I was humbled that I got the opportunity to participate in this tournament. [Being selected] motivated me to work extra hard and put in even more effort,” said Davids. 

Similar sentiments ring true for Maree, who said that she burst into tears when she found out that she had been selected for the team. 

She has expressed how grateful she is for the opportunity to represent her country at this high a level. “I love that we have the privilege of being the host country. I’m keen to see how we will perform as a team, and I think that we will make our country proud,” said Maree. 

Despite their immense achievements and enthusiasm, the duo’s road to the Junior World Cup is not without obstacles. They are currently unable to finance their trip to Windhoek to participate in the tournament in which teams from all over the continent will be competing. In order to participate, Davids and Maree need to raise R35 500 to cover the estimated costs of participating in the tournament. They hope to have the opportunity to represent SA, as well as to be exposed to different styles of hockey and to build friendships with their teammates.

If anyone would like to assist Caylin and Laylaa financially, more information is available on their Instagram accounts ­­(@caylin.maree and @­laylaadavids).

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