Field hockey is not recognised as an affiliated sport in the province and it is still under-going structural processes in all five local districts to be recognised as a sport by the Northern Cape Sports Confederation and the Department of Sports. One local hockey club, Saints, have chosen to rise above the politics and setbacks and have yet again set out to compete in the biggest Easter hockey tournament in the country, dubbed the “K.C March Hockey Tournament”.
Without any viable financial backing from sports institutions, the costs endured by the club runs close to a million rand paid out their own pockets. But for all their sacrifices, the players and the club are still looking for support, to help build hockey locally and start a sustainable league that will shine some recognition on the often overlooked talent the province has to offer.
The Saints’s club chairperson, Mr. Visagie, figures the only way to curb the strenuous financial costs involved is for the hockey federation and the club to comply with all required processes. “It is really important, the next steps we as a federation take in the next few months, the federation’s elected executives need to get our house in order and follow all protocols which the department has outlined as compliant, so that in 2020, when we submit financial or any other assistance from the department, we are hopefully not rejected, and this goes not only for Saints club but any other hockey club in the province” said Mr. Visagie.
Saints played in the A-section at the KC March Easter Tournament, an extremely tough division occupied by a large number of national players. They were also joined by local clubs Pescod, Homevale and Sorellas who all played in the B-section of the tournament. Saints had high ambitious of doing well in the KC March and began their efforts strong by notching a 3-2 win over Inanda KZN on Friday. Their performance appeared to take a dip after a promising start when they lost all three remaining matches, 5-3 to NMMU from Port Elizabeth, 5-3 to Parkside from East London and 6-4 to Lakeside also from Port Elizabeth.
The dip in performance was taken as a lesson and motivation for the players of the team says the squad’s captain, Desmond de Koker. “What’s been amazing is that our team has embraced the challenges and really tried to create changes beyond just playing, this year players gave everything they had. We identified our weaknesses and most importantly our strengths, this directs our tactics and we can see the fruits of our efforts. We are also happy with our young player’s performances, there is a clear concentration of talent in the camp” said Desmond. Despite the disappointing finish, one Saints player, Lyndon Fredericks dominated the scoring leader board and was awarded top goal-scorer of the tournament, with 8 goals scored.
With a talented squad and a team who seeks to keep the hockey flame alight in the province, Saints is without a doubt a team to look out for.