Hardest goodbye for hockey club hero

WOKING Hockey Club bid a fond farewell to coach Denzil Dolley in a high-scoring testimonial on Saturday.

Dolley, who has been at the helm of the Goldsworth Park outfit for the last four years, is returning home to South Africa to start a new charity, ASLAN – Hope In Sport, which aims to change people’s lives through sport.

Having represented South Africa at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Dolley and wife Lee-Anne moved to the UK later that year.

Dolley joined the setup in 2010 and went on to make an immediate impact, leading the first XI to the Surrey and Hampshire League title, a feat that had eluded them for the previous 11 seasons. Turning out to wave him off and present him with funds to help get his charity off the ground were players past and present.

The two Woking teams were captained by Denzil’s two skippers, James Turner, and current captain, Piers Pitt. It was Turner’s side who came out on top, winning 6-4 thanks to a hat-trick from the man of the hour himself.

Following the match, Denzil was presented with a plaque in recognition of his efforts. Possibly more importantly, he was also given a cheque for £1,000 from the team and supporters to help realise his dream of starting his charity. Dolley (right) said: “Woking has been a home to me and my family for the past four years. I have had the pleasure of not just being a coach, but being part of something special – a family.

BON VOYAGE – dozens of  players turned out to say  goodbye to Denzil Dolley

BON VOYAGE – dozens of players turned out to say goodbye to Denzil Dolley

“Of course, my primary role is to coach the team, but I have been brought up to know coaching it is not just about getting players to perform on the pitch, but off it as well. I am so thankful for this gift and feel so blessed to have met each and everyone of you.”

On his new venture back in South Africa, Dolley added, “ASLAN – Hope In Sport’s vision is transforming young peoples lives through sport, giving young people hope. How? Through outreach projects such as HIV awareness sports programmes, mentoring programmes, feeding centres, sports ministry camps, sport educational apprenticeships, PE, christian based programmes in schools, crime diversionary schemes, projects in community through church based academies(football, hockey, rugby, cricket, athletics) and elite sports programmes. All of which is motivated and driven by God’s love for all people.”

“It seemed a bit crazy for me at first to leave a country that has given me, my wife, and my beautiful daughters, Emily and Jessamy so much, but I realised that I am not crazy, I get to pivot and change my direction in life and have a go at trying my very best to fix something in this broken world of ours and invest in the lives of the youth (our future leaders) of this world and as uncertain as it feels to me, I believe with all my heart that just as God has guided my life in the past, I get to trust Him again with our life ahead in South Africa.”

Woking have all but signed Denzil’s replacement for the coming season, which is to start on the 4th October with an away trip to old rivals Hamble. The team will start pre-season training in mid-August. If you are interested in joining the club, contact Mens’ 1st XI Captain Piers Pitt at pierspitt@hotmail.com

Club Chairman, John Hughes commented: “The impact Denzil has had on, not only this group of players, but the entire club has been second to none, and we cannot thank him enough for the hard work he has put in over the past 4 seasons. His legacy will live on in the club, and we look to do him proud by returning to the Southern Premier Division next season.”

“With his new adventure, we wish him the best of luck. Denzil has been working within a similar organisation within the UK, and we know he will be successful with his new charity, ASLAN- Hope in Sport”.

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