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Ally Fredericks in action for South Africa


02.09.1971 – 15.06.2021

The tragic premature passing this month of former hockey Olympian Allistar Fredericks in Johannesburg has been widely mourned by hockey folk beyond the shores of his native South Africa.

Allistar's story is one of the modern world. In 1994 he became the first non-white international in the nation's long hockey history to be selected first for the World Cup, then the All African Games and culminating at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.

His rise to such achievements following South Africa's return to the international fold after decades of political isolation was against all odds. He was born and raised in a township in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. His educational background was limited, denied even basic provision of books and facilities in the troubled times of school boycotts and the social unrest of the 1980s.

Allistar's (Ally) escape was through his love of playing hockey at his local segregated club which was affiliated to the South African Council on Sport (SACOS) who opposed the division of sport on racial grounds in South Africa.

By the age of 18, he was already making heads turn with his array of stick skills, fast hands and dexterity of footwork. His sporting talents were natural and he could have been selected for his Griqualand Province in football or rugby as well.

Ally chose hockey, but the law of the land only allowed him to play in SACOS representative teams. His nature was always positive and genial, and it was these attributes which allowed him to qualify as a 'fitter and turner' in the metallurgical engineering workshops. He at least had a trade to fall back on.

His big break came in 1994 when, at the age of 23, Ally moved to Pretoria where the new Nelson Mandela government broke the shackles to non-white sportsmen's advancement. A newly appointed international team coach with a more enlightened approach from the selection panel ensured that Ally's talents were to be recognised with his selection for the Sydney World Cup.

The inclusion of a person of colour for the first time caused a sensation in the hockey world for the next three years as South Africa emerged out of isolation to become a top ten nation globally and Africa's premier power.


Ally Fredericks with Gavin Featherstone

Allistar Fredericks with Gavin Featherstone.

Images courtesy of Gavin Featherstone.


It was never a case of just Ally's natural abilities; it was all about what he represented at this dynamic time in the sports-mad nation. He played with a smile on his face, a joie de vivre seldom matched by his team mates or his opponents. His positive response to coaching was infectious which made him a valued and popular member of a young and ambitious squad. His partnership as a twin striker with Greg 'Beefy' Nicol was feared throughout international hockey.

Come the Atlanta Olympic Games, fame had come to Allistar amongst his own community in South Africa. He was aware of this and perhaps he felt the need to redirect his focus after he fell out of favour with successive coaches and managers.

Ally redirected his concern and concentration into the emergence of previously disadvantaged players creating new opportunities for playing in the provincial and national age group teams. Exciting new talents emerged under his care and guidance, notably spread across cities like Port Elizabeth, East London and Kimberley. As a coaching coordinator or as a national team performance director he adopted a hands-on approach to allow free upward passage to the underprivileged in South African hockey communities.

As evidence to this, in recent years Ally opened his own hockey academy at Beaulieu College just north of Johannesburg. The school generously offered hockey and sports scholarships to young aspiring players thrust out of difficult environments to receive tremendous academic and sports training amongst the finest facilities. Future national team players are today rolling off this accredited nursery.

Ally had turned full circle to offer to many what he had solely and independently experienced. He was the first and he always valued and appreciated that.

Allistar Fredericks was one of a kind, always playing and living life with a smile on his face. His name gives his memory an everlasting note:

He was AlliSTAR.

South African hockey is in a far better place for his contribution and experience.


Gavin Featherstone
South Africa National and Olympic Head Coach 1994-1996.


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