Original image - Marcel Sigg
The South African Hockey sides head to the Gold Coast to take on the Commonwealth Games. The SA Hockey Men feature an exciting and youthful squad including one of the most refreshing attacking talents in some years, Nqobile “Bili” Ntuli.
Bili is now 22 and has already earned himself 21 caps and picked up six goals for the Amastokke. This includes the FIH World League and now the Kearsney College old boy will be part of the team looking to ruffle a few feathers in Australia!
Get to know our striker ahead of the Commonwealth Games!
Although it is already 21 caps ago, please tell us about the moment you got to make your debut for SA?
It was something I’d been waiting for and dreaming about for a long time but didn’t expect it so soon either. We played against Ireland in Cape Town a day after my birthday and secured a 3-3 result, so it was pretty memorable.
You featured in the Junior Hockey World Cup in 2016 in India, including scoring a goal in the victory against Austria. What was the Junior World Cup experience like?
The Hockey Junior World Cap was an incredible experience! Firstly, playing with a talented group in my generation who were hungry to make history and then, playing at a major FIH tournament. To play against India in a packed stadium in Lucknow, where hockey is a religion, indescribable.
Image - Marcel Sigg
You already have a pretty sensational hockey CV, what has been your best hockey experience so far?
It’s really hard to think one as I’ve been so blessed with a few amazing opportunities. The Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, where South Africa finished fourth, are up there but I think winning the Africa cup in Egypt against the hosts in the final was the most special.
How are you feeling about the preparation of the Commonwealth Games?
My individual prep was interrupted by some terrible news (Nqobile’s younger sister passed away unexpectedly) but since then I’ve knuckled down and joined the squad for camps has been a massive boost for me, the excitement around the team with the new coach has been a big motivation - we’re an ambitious young group with a new coach and fresh ideas, we’ll be tested.
As a striker who do you look up to in your hockey?
I’ve always looked up to Lloyd Norris-Jones and tried to emulate his aggression in and around the D but also Tom Boon has a lot of attributes that I try to learn from
Who has played the biggest role in your career so far?
Probably my brother (Sihle Ntuli), he’s motivated me to try and be the best and just set an example for my peers since I was young. His attitude towards succeeding at all costs is something I’ve adopted
There are a lot of youngsters in our CWG squad, are you excited about the future of SA Hockey?
It’s extremely exciting but at the same time daunting. We are motivated and hungry along with our new coach and a bit of experience in the setup. Credit to the selectors for making big decisions and backing us
You can continue to support the rise of Bili by following him on social media @bili_ntuli27 on Instagram and Twitter.