The South African Hockey Association (SAHA) is allowing the national women’s selectors a new opportunity to identify the best players nationally, at the inaugural running of a brand-new tournament.
“Historically, we have the one-week SPAR IPT,” SAHA President Dave Carr explained to gsport. “This tournament, it’s the first time we’re running such a thing, to give our top players more competition.
“We’ve put the whole of the countries into franchise regions, Western Cape (comprising Western Province and Boland); Eastern Cape (Eastern Province and Border); Natal (KwaZulu Natal and the Natal Midlands); and Gauteng (North and South Gauteng).
As the Olympic Game approach, the South African Women’s National Hockey Team will depart for Ireland to play in a 4-Nations in June, and an African Olympic Qualifier in July, following which they have been invited for an Olympic warm-up 4-Nation tournament against hosts China, Australia and Argentina.
“It’s a new tournament,” continues Carr, “So there are no sponsors. Each province is responsible for getting their players here.” Each regional team plays each other team over the first three days, and on Monday 30 April, the top two sides will contest the final.
“Looking at the team sheets, you’d put your money on Western Cape,” Carr responded when approached for tournament favourites. “If you look at the current number of national players, there are a lot there.
“If you look at Gauteng, they are also a strong side. There’s always rivalry between those two. The sides which are battling are the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, Natal have a very young side (I think they’ve got four or five school girls).”
With 11 capped players each, Gauteng and Western Cape are heavy favourites to make it to the final.
Day 1 Results:
Western Cape bt KwaZulu Natal 4-0 (Half-time 4-0)
Eastern Cape bt Gauteng B 1-2 (0-0)
Day 2 Results:
Western Cape bt Eastern Cape 9-0 (5-0)
Gauteng A bt Gauteng B 6-0 (2-0)
Gauteng A bt KwaZulu Natal 6-1 (2-1)
Western Cape bt Gauteng B 5-0 (3-0)