Five of the top Eastern Cape hockey teams will be attempting to go all the way when the provincial finals of the SPAR Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge take place at Woodridge College on Saturday.
Following five play-off tournaments, including South Western Districts, the regional winners will now clash for the main prize in a round-robin format.
They will each play four matches and will be relieved to hear that the matches will be played over 30 minutes after the regional play-off games were restricted to a pressure-filled 20 minutes.
For Saturday, the matches will consist of two halves of 15 minutes in a slight change to the format, although the pressure will still be intense.
The inaugural concept in the Eastern Cape has been a major success, creating a competitive environment on the field while also instilling a sense of camaraderie among the players.
It was started in KwaZulu Natal six years ago by former SA women’s hockey manager Les Galloway and the Challenge looks set to become a permanent date on the Eastern Cape calendar.
Galloway, now the tournament national director, said the concept had grown into a sporting event which would inspire many players to reach the highest level.
“It has been very exciting and fulfilling to see the enthusiasm of the participants at the five regional tournaments,” she said.
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 Eastern Cape’s sponsorship ties in with their community involvement.
“SPAR has always focused on healthy living and family,” said SPAR promotions and marketing 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.”
The event also recognises promising young umpires who officiated during the play-off matches. At each regional play-off an up-and-coming umpire of the tournament was named and these officials will blow the whistle in the finals.
The fixtures for Saturday are: 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