When any sports star plays his or her 300th test, questions about retirement invariably pop up along with the accolades.
In the case of Marsha Marescia, captain of South Africa’s women’s hockey side, the word retirement never even occurred to her or anyone involved with the game when she recently became the first to reach this milestone.
This shows in what high regard the Randburg resident and former member of the University of Johannesburg side is held by her peers.
Her achievement made her one of this sports-mad nation’s most-capped athletes and overshadowed the country’s 6-0 victory over Ghana in a World League match in the Hartleyvale Stadium in Cape Town.
Marescia turned 30 on January 13 but the midfielder’s form and her leadership skills will ensure that she notches up a lot more caps.
Even though she has had injury problems of late, her fitness is an example to any youngster.
“I eat healthy and love my vitamin water,” she told the media when asked about the secret to her longevity.
If you represent your country over such a long period there is not much spare time, but, when she gets a chance, Marescia picks up a golf club or hangs out with her friends in a shopping mall somewhere.
Her first big tournament for her country was back in 2002 and she is very happy that her 300th match was in front of her home crowd.
“It is the first time I celebrated one of the milestones of my career in South Africa. It was just great,” the Durban-born player said.
World record holder for the number of goals scored in a career, Pietie Coetzee, said it was a privilege to share the big moment with her captain and former UJ club team-mate. Coetzee herself reached another milestone, her 250th test goal, with a brace against Ghana.
To top it all for the university, current student Bernadette Coston also scored against Ghana.
“Marsha is a phenomenal person,” said UJ hockey manager Elize le Roux. “She was one of the strongest leaders in UJ hockey.
“When she was with us she was always looking for ways to improve the sport.
“She always puts extra work into her game and works with the younger players to bring them through the structures. She is a great leader and will be involved in the sport for a long time.”
The national side’s assistant coach, Fabian Gregory, acknowledged that it was “lovely” to have the services of players like Marescia and Coetzee.
“Together they have over 500 test matches’ worth of experience. Pietie’s ability as an exceptional goal scorer in all phases alongside Marsha’s consummate skills in the midfield give them a huge presence and frees up our other players.”
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South Africa’s women’s hockey captain and former UJ player Marsha Marescia became the first player to receive 300 international caps this week.