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The SPAR Hockey Challenge is a much-anticipated tournament for young ladies throughout South Africa, and the first leg of the event has concluded with a Collegiate victory.

 

Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa (14 March 2022) – The long-awaited return of the SPAR Hockey Challenge is finally happening this year after the two-year break due to the pandemic, and teams are pumped! It started in late February, and the Eastern Cape leg of the challenge came to a close over the weekend.

The much-needed rain in the Nelson Mandela Bay region did nothing to dampen spirits of the teams that competed in the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge at Woodridge yesterday.

When the final drop fell in the PE Coastal leg, it was defending champions Collegiate that emerged as the winners in the narrowest of fashions against Gqeberha rivals Pearson.

Last year, Collegiate never received the chance to play in the provincial finals as the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any chance of the competition being completed.

It was their second successive final against Pearson, but, unlike last year’s 4-0 win, it went down to the wire, with the winners edging through in a penalty shootout.

The 25 minutes of regulation time were fiercely contested. Collegiate enjoyed territorial advantage, but both sides had their chances, only to flounder on the defensive wall they faced at each end.

Even in the shootout, there was little to choose between the teams.

The first penalty was converted, but from there on, the goalkeepers stood firm, and when five players from each side had taken their shots, it remained 1-0 to Collegiate.

Thrilled that the Hockey Challenge was back on track around the country, SPAR EC sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton congratulated the girls on their high-quality play.

He also reminded them of things he deemed an essential part of the day.

“More important than the competition was the spirit in which you played the game and the friendships that have come out of today,” said Stapleton.

“Those are the sorts of friendships that last a lifetime and in 20 to 30 years I know you will look back on the friends you made today. If we can be the catalyst for that, well that’s even better for us.

“Thanks to everyone who braved the weather because we really do appreciate you being with us. After two years, it’s wonderful to have the SPAR Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge going again.

“You should just know that from a SPAR point of view women and sport are important and hockey is very much part of that.

“It was great to be able to support the EP indoor side that went away recently and, to you guys, this Hockey Challenge is a big priority for us.”

The winners will join Makhanda’s DSG in the provincial finals in Gqeberha in August, but there were also others to celebrate on the day.

The officials were acknowledged when Brooke Kruger received the prize for the most promising umpire. At the same time, St Thomas goalkeeper Danah Brown was given an award for showing great spirit, especially in a magical moment when she blocked two goals in quick succession.

The Collegiate team that won the PE Coastal leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge at Woodridge included, back from left, Alan Stapleton (SPAR EC sponsorships and events manager), Laura Dorothy (SPAR EC sponsorships and events controller), Hannah Griffon, Holley van Heerden, Isabella Bisdee (captain), Jade Brown, Lara Kleinhans, Gabriella Tait, Nicole Dames, Kyla Nienaber, Dalan Phillips (coach), Michael Abrahams (assistant coach), Bianka La Mude (emcee), and, bottom, Jenna Peltenburg, Elizabeth Porter, Simone Venter, Rebecca Fincham, Lily Sharp, Tyler Marks and Chantell Posthumus (manager). Photo: Leon Hugo

Following the tournament in Makhanda and the PE Coastal leg, there will be a two-month break before it resumes with the Southern Cape tournament in George on May 7, followed by the EL Coastal leg in East London on May 15 and the EL Inland leg in Queenstown on May 22.

The provincial finals will be played at Collegiate in Gqeberha on August 13 and 14. Which schools are playing from your province? Show your school pride in the comment section.


Sources: Full Stop Communications
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

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