Johannesburg, Thursday, 17th August 2006 – Defending champions Southern Gauteng are confident of retaining their title at next week’s annual SPAR Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament to be played at the Randburg Hockey Stadium in Johannesburg.
South Africa’s best women’s hockey players will gather in Randburg on Monday to play in 12 team round robin competition which has its final played on Saturday afternoon (August 26).
South African goalkeeper Caroline Jack, captain of the Southern Gauteng side, said that although her team were confident of defending their title they were conscious of the fact that the competition would be fierce.
“With the new format this year, with no semi finals being played, in order to secure a place in the final you have to end in the top two of your section.
“Each match therefore is vitally important and with two of our star players Pietie Coetzer and Fiona Butler not being available for our first match on Monday against KwaZulu Natal we are going to have to pull out all the stops to get maximum points.
Jack went on to predict that Southern Gauteng’s strongest competition would come from 2004 champions Western Province.
“Western Province are stronger than ever before”, said Jack, “they have an impressive line up of South African and provincial players and under the excellent leadership of Kate Hector we expect Western Province to be the big hurdle to over come in regaining our title.”
While all the teams will be out to do their best, individual players will also be trying to impress the selectors.
The final South African team for the World Cup in Spain in September will be selected after the SPAR Women’s IPT, and top players also have the opportunity to be included in the South African squad in their build up to the 2008 Olympic Games.
“The IPT provides the ideal opportunity for our top players to get together and prepare for the upcoming World Cup,” said Dave Carr, President of the South African Hockey Association (SAHA), “and I would like to thank SPAR for their continued support of the women’s hockey programme and for making events such as this possible.”
The 12 teams have been divided into 2 groups on a ‘strength versus strength’ basis, with the six top teams in Section A and the others in Section B.
Section A: Southern Gauteng, Western Province, North West, Northerns, KwaZulu-Natal, and KZN Midlands
Section B: Eastern Province, Peninsula, Witwatersrand, KZN Mynahs, Free State and Border