The cream of the Eastern Cape’s players will put it all on the line when the provincial finals of the SPAR Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge take place at Woodridge College on Saturday.
After five regional events, which included South Western Districts, a total of 50 teams have been narrowed down to the final five.
The teams who will duel it out for the overall bragging rights are Collegiate (PE Coastal), DSG (PE North), Kingsridge (EL Inland), Hudson Park (EL Coastal) and York (SWD).
Introduced to the Eastern Cape for the first time this year, the challenge has been an outstanding success, creating a competitive environment on the field while instilling a sense of camaraderie among the players.
Started in KwaZulu-Natal by former SA women’s hockey manager Les Galloway, it is aimed at providing opportunities for teams who don’t normally play each other to compete in a fun tournament.
Matches were restricted to 20 minutes in the regional play-offs, creating a series of tense encounters. This has been altered slightly for the finals, with matches being played over 30 minutes.
Galloway, now the tournament’s national director, is delighted with the success of the inaugural Eastern Cape event.
“What started out as a simple idea in KwaZulu-Natal some six years ago has grown into a sporting event that has inspired many to reach the highest level of our sport,” she said.
“It has been very exciting and fulfilling to see the enthusiasm of the participants at the five regional tournaments.”
She paid tribute to SPAR Eastern Cape for creating the opportunity for the schools.
“Many thanks to them for their wonderful support and interest in schoolgirls’ hockey. Without their commitment, many dreams would remain just that.”
SPAR EC have been delighted with the success of the inaugural tournament, which ties in with their ethos of community involvement.
“We have always focused on healthy living and family,” said SPAR promotions and advertising manager Wendy Westraadt.
“With this tournament, we aim to fulfil both. It’s an event of great sporting action, with the families being able to join in on the fun of the day.”
An exciting weekend has been prepared for the schoolgirls at host school Woodridge.
“All the teams will be accommodated on Friday night at Woodridge College and they are also putting on entertainment for the girls,” said regional tournament director Peter Wilson.
To recognise the players’ contributions, a player of the match will be named after each of the 10 matches.
The event also recognises promising young umpires who officiated during the regional events. At each play-off an up-and-coming umpire of the tournament was named and these officials will blow the whistle in the finals.
Saturday’s fixtures: 8am: DSG v Hudson Park, 8.35: Collegiate v York, 9.10: Kingsridge v DSG, 9.45: Hudson Park v Collegiate, 10.20: York v Kingsridge, 11.15: DSG v Collegiate, 11.50: Hudson Park v York, 12.25: Kingsridge v Collegiate, 1pm: York v DSG, 1.35: Hudson v Kingsridge