A young sports star from Tzaneen is currently sitting on an airplane heading towards the United States. She is young, fit, determined and eager to start her career as an international field hockey player. But right now, Zoë Bergmann must deal with the butterflies first.

At just 19 years old, the former Ben Vorster High School’s First Girls hockey team captain caught the eyes of a few university scouts over in America. She was offered bursaries to join one of these institutions on a field hockey scholarship and decided to make the agricultural town of Gaffney in South Carolina her new home. There, she will be attending the University of Limestone for four years.

It all came about when the Bergmann family were browsing the internet for international opportunities for their daughter. They came across the Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) platform and submitted all the necessary documentation to get the process started.

Next College Student Athlete is a for-profit organization that connects middle and high school student-athletes with college coaches.

NCSA teaches middle and high school student-athletes about the college recruiting process. The NCSA Athletic Recruiting team consists of coaches, scouts and former college athletes.

“We want the best for our daughter, as every parent does, and so we searched for a way to obtain an international scholarship for her,” explained dad, Reenen. “We landed on the page of a local agent who was unable to assist but referred us to the NCSA which helps thousands of youngsters all around the world to reach their dreams of international exposure. The rest is as they say, history.”

Though hockey is her favourite sport, Zoë is a natural born athlete and has excelled in various disciplines. She blames this on genetics as both her parents, Reenen and Sanet, have in the past, and still do, compete at provincial level in tennis and ringball. Sanet having achieved Springbok colours in the latter.

“I guess you could call it ‘good stock’ if you like,” Zoë chuckled. “I like all sports and have always been supported by both my parents in any endeavour no matter how fleeting. I am a pretty good middle distance and hurdles athlete as well, but I didn’t really like those disciplines. I much preferred javelin, discuss and long jump when it came to athletics.”

On the netball courts is where Zoë truly shined according to her dad however. She captained the Ben Vorster First Team whilst in High School and was a formidable defender given her height and athleticism.

She was chosen to represent her province at the same time as she was selected for the Limpopo hockey squad and so she chose the astro over the concrete. In total, this youngster wore the provincial jacket for tennis, hockey and squash.

“And then my mom told me about the boxing fitness hosted at Champ’s Boxing Academy and I thought it would be a great challenge as it is something that I had not ever done before in my life. So my dad and I joined the gym and I immediately fell in love with the sport, despite the fact that I really don’t want to be punched in the face!”

Coach Gerhard Rossouw said that Zoë showed natural ability and a level of skill that he had not seen in a youngster in many years. According to him, if she decided to climb into the ring, he had no doubt that she would make the national team in her first year.

Alas, the pull of the hockey field proved one too strong for the promising young warrior (she featured in a special video shot on location for Women’s Month which can be viewed on Bulletin’s Facebook page next week).

Tzaneen and Bulletin wishes Zoë all the best for her future in this exciting new venture and we will touch base with her dad at the Tzaneen Tennis Club regularly for updates on her progress. For the parents who would like more information on international bursary opportunities, visit www.ncsasports.org