Collegiate won the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge yesterday, defeating Pearson in a high-pressure final at Collegiate in Port Elizabeth.
The 20-minute match went back and forth before Collegiate were able to break through, with Kristen Kirchner scoring with four minutes remaining.
Pearson fought until the end, coming back strongly to force their way into the Collegiate circle. However, Collegiate’s defence was tight and they eventually cleared the ball just before the final hooter.
The tournament kicked off a series of regional events in the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge, which has been set up this year under the management of regional director Peter Wilson.
Eight schools took part at Collegiate, with a total of 60 being involved in the five events.
Ten schools are set to compete in the PE North section, which takes place in Grahamstown this coming weekend. The other tournaments are East London Coastal, East London Inland and South Western Districts.
“It gives schools who sometimes don’t get the chance to compete at this level the chance to gain exposure,” said Wilson.
He said the five regional winners would face off in the Eastern Cape finals at Woodridge on August 13.
Former SA women’s hockey manager Les Galloway, now the national tournament director, came up with the idea.
“SPAR came to me in KwaZulu-Natal and asked me to think of something in which they could get involved,” said Galloway.
“Since hockey is my passion, I designed this tournament to provide greater interaction between schools which normally might not play against each other, while also using the chance to develop umpires and to give them a chance to display their skills.
“We have been doing this for six years in KZN, and it has been a big success – so much so that schools phone me to check when the SPAR Challenge is before they organise their own calendars.”
Galloway added that while the focus is on having fun and making new friends, the competitive element on the field is also important.
2015 marked the first Western Cape event and Galloway is hoping to expand to the central and northern provinces as well.
SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and marketing manager Wendy Westraadt said that SPAR was delighted to be involved in such a well-organised, popular event.
“We have had amazing support from the parents and the children, and we are looking forward to the remaining tournaments,” she said.