Pongola, Saturday 25 February 

The SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge moves north this weekend when the first regional of the seventh annual tournament takes place in Pongola on Saturday, February 25.

Hosted for the second time by Pongola Akademie, the regionals sees nine first team girls’ schools battling it out for the prized title in what promises to be a strong regional. Schools participating including defending champions Sarel Cilliers (Glencoe, Umzinyathi), Newcastle High School, Ferrum High School and St Dominics also from Newcastle, Utrecht High School, Dundee High School, Vryheid High School, Pionier High School (Vryheid) and Pongola Akademie.

Defending champions Sarel Cilliers, who made their maiden appearance at the finals in Durban last year, having scooped the honours from five times northern regional champions Ferrum High, will no doubt be determined to hold onto their title, with Ferrum eager to claim it back.

Twenty-five minute games with two pools will be played on two fields with the winners of the pools going into a semi-final format. In Pool A are Pionier, Ferrum; Vryheid, Sarel Cilliers and Newcastle, and in Pool B Utrecht, Dundee, Pongola and St Dominics.

The tournament not only aims to support the development of the players, but also that of the umpires. Each school brings their best umpire to represent them on the day and at the end of each regional, one umpire is recognized as the “Most Promising Umpire”.

“Seven years down the line, and we continue to enjoy watching the impact that this tournament has on developing the game in the province,” says Tournament Director, Les Galloway. “There is definitely an increased interest in the game not only from the players perspective but also from the schools and the supporters point of view. We have seen more astroturfs being installed in the province, and a growing spectator base – all boding well for the increased support on all levels for the game.”

New Managing Director for SPAR KZN, Max Oliva said, “With this being the first tournament of my tenure as M.D, I look forward to the fantastic hockey that will be on display throughout the respective tournaments. We are proud to be associated with our sponsorship of girls hockey within our province and these events have grown into something we are particularly proud of. At SPAR we encourage our customers to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, so what better way to do this than providing a platform for a competitive yet super-friendly sporting engagement. We wish all our competitors and their supporters a great day on and off the field.”

Winners of the Northern KZN Regional will participate in the Grand Finals of the SPAR KZN School Girls Hockey Challenge that takes place at St Mary’s DSG over the weekend of 28 and 29 July.

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