Name: Rassie Pieterse
Home Town/Country: Johannesburg, South Africa
Home Club: The Wanderers Club, Johannesburg
Current Club: The Wanderers Club, Johannesburg – Southern Gauteng Lions, Provincial team – Maropeng Cavemen, Premier Hockey League Franchise Team.
I started playing hockey at a very late age as it wasn’t until University that I decided to play. I was a rugby and cricket athlete who was forced to quit due to injuries. I was the cricket keeper in Cricket, which I figured was most similar to goalie in hockey, so in 2002, I padded up for a low-level university team. This was the very start to a hockey journey I never imagined, thanks to a couple coaches seeing my athletic talent and giving me a chance to be a train-on far before I was technically ready. At one point I even received the nickname “Dartboard” as I was basically a static board people would try to hit. In 2007, I received my first cap for South Africa in Pretoria on the very field I put on my pads for the first time 5 years before.
Since my international debut, I have played in the African Cup in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Egypt, the Commonwealth Games and World Cup in India, and the Olympics in Beijing and London.
In the 2011-2012 season, I played in Holland for Schaerweijde HC to prepare for the London Olympics and learn how to ride a bike… We competed in the Hoofdklasse. It was an incredible experience and taught me A LOT both on, and off the field, especially about how to work with different cultures. We had four internationals; two Pakistanis, one Englishman and myself.
In 2015, I was fortunate to get selected for the Hockey India League and I played for the Delhi Waveriders. This was also an incredible experience. How the league was structured we traveled the entire country for games. Again my team was a melting pot of cultures, we had three South Africans, three kiwis, three Aussies, one German, and ten Indian players. The tournament has exceptional comradery and also got to know all the other international players on the other teams.
During this time hockey also gave me a full-scholarship to finish my university degree and opened doors to a great career… TK sponsored me in 2005 when I was invited to the SA training squad. I felt quite cool. Then I started working for TK in 2007. In 2009, I took over distribution in SA and my role within the company has continued to increase. My work with TK has taken me all around the world as well and exposed me to different hockey cultures around the world at a deeper level. I also have started consulting goalkeepers around the world. Needless to say, hockey has been a vehicle for me to see the world, make lifelong friends, earn a living and experience cultures and personal growth in ways I never imagined.
Why you’re excited/passionate about Uru:
I was lucky enough to play in India and Holland but it’s never been easy, even when I had connections all over the world. I had to fish around and hope for a random encounter that led to an open position.
With Uru, it takes away the randomness and you can now actually do proper research.
Before Uru, there were basically two routes to finding a team to play for. One, contacting all your friends who may have a connection to see IF they knew of any teams possibly looking.
And two, search the web and reach out to all teams, hoping you contacted the right person and hope they’d respond and be looking for a player.
I remember the first time I wanted to go overseas, I truly would’ve taken the very first team that would have taken me but looking back, it definitely would not have been the best opportunity for me at that time. I had no idea about what to expect or what to ask for. I knew nothing about the clubs and just had messaged teams blindly.
There are so many different opportunities out there and it’s important to find the right one that aligns with your goals. This was nearly impossible before, and especially if you didn’t know people who lived there who you could ask. Different players are looking for different things; making money, improving your game, receiving academic degrees, having opportunities to travel, being part of a social club…
There are so many different aspects when looking for a club and a lot of athletes don’t realize until the arrive across the world, that what they expected is not the case at all. Uru helps supply the proper information to make realistic expectations and gives you guidance in the process.
Advice you give to the hockey community:
Players, you need to think about WHY you are going overseas. What do you want to achieve in your stint abroad? What does the hockey situation need to look like to achieve your goals? There are SO many amazing opportunities out there and there’s no need to commit without the proper knowledge of what you’re getting into. We are here to help you find and connect with the RIGHT one!
Coaches, make sure that when you’re recruiting you get to know the athlete a bit before offering… See if their personality matches with the team and see if your goals align with theirs. We vet athletes and talk to references to get the scoop on certain athletes. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Uru Team if you need help finding a certain type of player!