The first test between the South African women's team and Germany was called off on Wednesday night due to a raging fire that enveloped the surrounding Stellenbosch Mountains.
Officials cancelled the game due to be played at the Stellenbosch University astro turf a half an hour after the scheduled 19:00 start due to concern over the risk of players inhaling smoke.
The fire, encouraged by the infamous Cape South Easter, swept down the mountain side and was threatening university buildings including the Sport Science Centre.
German coach Michi Behrmann said that his touring party had never seen such a fire so close up and was concerned about the safety of his players.
"We won't sleep well tonight," said Behrmann. "We are staying at the Stellenbosch Hotel and it has a thatch roof so we are very worried."
South African coach Jenny King was more worried about her players mind set. "The players from the Olympics were really looking forward to this game after a long layoff. And the new caps will also be very disappointed that they could not play tonight."
But both coaches are not fazed by the delay as they prepare their teams for the season ahead. The Germans are preparing for the Champions Trophy to be played in Sydney in July in which the top six teams from Beijing meet. They then play in the European Cup in the Netherlands in August and Behrmann sees their tour in South Africa as perfect preparation.
"You have great facilities here. There is a fantastic gym and the weather is wonderful. Except today," quipped, the German.
But a concerned King allayed the fears of the visitors. "Don't worry about the fire, she said to Behrmann. "You guys are in the middle of town. The fire will never reach there."
Source: BLD / South African Hockey Association
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