There is good news for women’s hockey – supermarket giant SPAR has renewed its sponsorship of over R5 million for a further 3 years until the end of December 2009.
SPAR has supported women’s hockey since 1995, and during that time, the national team has taken part in a number of international tournaments, both at home and abroad.
A Festival of Hockey in Stellenbosch earlier this year saw the national team take on the world champions, the Netherlands, and the Olympic champions, Germany, as well as Great Britain, Ireland and Canada.
Although South Africa was unable to beat the Netherlands, they managed a very creditable two-all draw against Germany. They beat Great Britain three-one in one of their matches, although they were beaten in the other two, and recorded victories and a draw against Canada and Ireland.
“The more international hockey we play, the more we will learn,” said captain Marsha Marescia.
“It’s a very young team – we have lost some of our very experienced stars, like Pietie Coetzee, Lindsey Carlisle and Kerry Bee, among others – and we need to start building towards the Olympic Games next year,” she said. “The only way we can make progress is by playing a lot of international hockey.”
“Different teams have different styles and playing against them helps us to develop our strategies, and helps us to be able to deal with whatever comes our way.
“We are very grateful to SPAR, who also sponsor our national tournament, which plays such a vital part in uncovering new talent. SPAR’s support ensures that we are not just national players, but international players,” said Marescia.
“SPAR believes that women’s sport provides an exciting platform on which to build its brand,” said Group Marketing Executive Roelf Venter. “In addition we saw a real need to assist where we can in an area that has been traditionally overlooked by sponsors.
“This sponsorship also gives SPAR the opportunity to create the awareness and raise the profile of not only the sport but the players as well, grow and improve the world rankings and give our South African teams the opportunity to compete with the best in the world.”
President of SAHA, Dave Carr, says SAHA is delighted about the sponsorship, “SPAR and South African hockey have enjoyed a wonderful relationship over the years. SPAR has been fantastic to South African hockey and women’s hockey in particular during this time.
“The professionalism, enthusiasm and quality service and support provided to our national women’s team and hockey events has been magnificent. So extending and increasing the sponsorship deal for women’s hockey is a sign of a healthy partnership which will ultimately benefit the game.”
The sponsorship covers the national team, the inter-provincial tournament, a four-nations international tournament held in South Africa, and the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) awards ceremony.