The cream of young talent in the Eastern Cape will be on display when the SPAR EC Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge provincial finals take place at Collegiate in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and Sunday.
Following registration at 2.30pm on Saturday, the five regional winners will meet in round-robin matches, culminating in the provincial decider at 11.35 on Sunday morning.
The teams who will be competing are Woodridge (PE Coastal), York (South Western Districts), DSG (PE North), Queenstown Girls’ High (East London Inland) and Clarendon (EL Coastal).
York High, from George, will be playing in the provincial finals for the fourth year and coach Erica Combrink said they were delighted to be part of the occasion.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our girls to be able to compete against the top teams in the Eastern Cape,” she said.
“I am hoping that the team can play to their full potential and, most importantly, use their opportunities.
“Playing shorter matches, the intensity will be high and every match is important.
“Each team will have their own strategy and game plan, so it is important to focus on one game at a time and try to get the necessary results.
“Lastly, I would like to say a massive thank you to SPAR, for making all this possible.”
Meanwhile, Woodridge coach Maxime Bird said they were expecting a tough competition but we were looking forward to the opportunity.
“As the teams are all regional winners it will be really strong,” she said. “But we know that there is always a good vibe at these finals and it’s a great chance for the players to reconnect with their friends from other regions.
“We understand the competition will be intense, but we are going there to play the game we love. Someone has to win and someone has to lose, so we just want to go out to play and to enjoy.”
The matches in the provincial finals are limited to 30 minutes, which means coaches try to adopt a specific strategy for the abbreviated period.
“Obviously with the short game time it is imperative to attack early and score goals,” said Bird.
“The strategy does depend on how the players are feeling on the day and how the opposition are performing.
“Each match is different and as important as the next, so we take each fixture as it comes and adapt accordingly.”
SPAR EC sponsorship and events manager Alan Stapleton said they were anticipating another high-quality tournament, which incorporated all their values.
“We are really excited about this provincial event and looking forward to the finals at the weekend,” he said.
“We expect there will be great rivalry among the teams, but with the event being split over two days, there is also a chance to strengthen the bonds of friendship and that is where the true value of sport lies.”
CAPTION: The York team which won the South Western Districts leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge in George in May was (back, from the left) SPAR EC sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton, Jo-Anne Klue, Jessica Edington, Abi van Tonder, Jodi Orban, Jade van de Venter, Caitlyn Callaghan, Vasti Visagie, Inca Schneor, Erica Combrink (coach), (front, from the left) Kara Vermeulen, Megan Buckley, Rachel Boshoff, Kate Kirk, Megan van der Walt and Emily Klue (captain). Photo: Supplied