Champions Kingsridge will be chasing a third title in a row when the East London Inland tournament of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge takes place in King William’s Town on Sunday.
The winners of this regional event will qualify for the provincial finals at Woodridge, near Port Elizabeth, in August and there will have to be a concerted effort by the other eight teams to prevent Kingsridge again taking the honours.
As hosts of the event, the King side will be in familiar surroundings, but are expecting a strong challenge from their competitors.
Coach Mark Taljaard said they had lost only three players from last year, which helped to maintain some continuity.
But he acknowledged that there would be no easy games in a tournament played over 20 minutes a match.
“Girls’ High School from Queenstown are going to be a very tough outfit,” said Taljaard.
“They have developed into a good side, while schools such as Aliwal North and Burgersdorp will also be in the reckoning.”
He said Kingsridge would be aiming to strike early in their matches, while working on controlling the possession.
The SPAR Hockey Challenge was an important part of their schedule, added Taljaard.
“It adds some variety to our fixtures as you are getting the chance to move away from the annual derby games and play teams you would not normally meet.
“It also opens the way for those other schools to broaden their playing programme.”
The teams competing on Sunday are: pool A: Kingsridge, Aliwal North, Templeton, Hangklip; pool B: Queenstown Girls’ High, Stutterheim, St Christopher’s, De Vos Malan, Burgersdorp.
The sides will play a round-robin in their pools, with the winners meeting in the final.