SPAR extending sponsorship
Collegiate were crowned the inaugural champions in the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge when they defeated Hudson Park in an exciting final at Woodridge on Saturday.
In a day of entertaining hockey that saw five teams vying for the honours, PE Coastal winners Collegiate and East London Coastal champions Hudson Park qualified for the final.
Even though Hudson Park lost their final match against EL Inland champions Kingsridge 2-0 they had done enough to contest the final.
The final, played over 15 minutes in each half, was a thrilling encounter, with both sides having their chances to break the deadlock before it ended 0-0 after full time.
This resulted in a three-player shootout which Collegiate took 3-1 after Hudson Park missed their second shot.
That miss gave the PE team a 2-1 advantage, and when they slotted their third goal they took an unassailable lead.
The inaugural tournament involved about 50 schools spread across five regions and the good news for the players is that SPAR have extended their sponsorship to next year.
“I can say to all of you that this has not been a one-hit wonder,” SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager Wendy Westraadt said at the prize-giving ceremony.
“We will be back next year doing it all over again.”
She said the aim was to grow the tournament as the group were delighted with their involvement.
“We came on board almost to see how it went. We wanted to be involved with schools hockey and to grow up-and-coming sportswomen.
“So we dipped our toes in and have been blown away by the support and reception from the schools. The vibe is so great.”
Collegiate coach Andrew Beynon said the players had thoroughly enjoyed the competition.
“It is just so great to have a major corporate supporting schoolgirl hockey and to be involved in a tournament like this,” he said.
“We have had a long season and Saturday was quite tough, playing five matches in the end, but it was a lovely way to end the season.”
The concept was started in Kwa-Zulu-Natal by former SA women’s team manager Les Galloway, now the Challenge’s national director.
She called the inaugural Eastern Cape tournament an overwhelming success.
“It has worked from a players’ point of view where they enjoyed interaction with teams they don’t normally play.
“Then you come into a final like today which sees sides from Border, EP and South Western Districts all competing against each other.”
Galloway was confident the tournament would grow in the future.
“This was the first year and nobody really knew what it was about. Now that they’ve heard about it, I know more teams will want to be involved.”
She paid tribute to SPAR for their commitment to the initiative.
“This would not happen without them. They come in with the family feel and the aim of supporting women in sport.”
Regional tournament director Peter Wilson said Galloway’s role should not be forgotten.
“It’s an amazing concept and I think she has made an outstanding contribution. She has been the driving force in spreading the concept to the Eastern and Western Cape and must be congratulated.”