The PE Vipers junior indoor hockey franchise showed how much they had progressed in just a few years when they were named franchise of the year at the national Pro Series Indoor Hockey tournament in Cape Town last month.
Accommodating players in the Nelson Mandela Bay and Grahamstown regions, PE Vipers entered only one team four years ago, their first year in the nationals, coming fourth in the U13 girls’ B section.
Last year that number had grown to 16 teams in the nationals, picking up five gold medals, one silver and three bronze.
The cherry on the top came when they were named the A section franchise of the year, ending a firm grip on the title held previously by teams from the Western Cape.
Since 2007, Western Cape teams had won the title six times (five by the Cape Seals and once by the Boland Foxes).
The only exception was in 2009 when the Gauteng Gryphons took the title.
Now the PE franchise have shown what they can do and it is bound to be a massive boost for the sport. There was further celebration when Harry Bisdee and Ongi Mali were named in the SA U16 All Stars girls’ team, with Nicky Veto making the U18 All Stars girls’ side.
The gold medals were won by the U11 girls, U12 boys, U13 boys and U14 girls (A and B sections). PE Vipers’ final placings in last year’s interprovincial tournaments:
Cape Town, July: U11 girls gold, U11 boys bronze, U12 boys gold.
Cape Town, December: U13 girls silver; U13 boys gold, B section bronze and B section 8th place; U14 girls gold, B section gold; U14 boys bronze, B section 5th; U16 girls fourth, B section fourth; U16 boys 9th; U18 girls 5th.
– Neale Emslie