The South African Women’s hockey team has received a welcome boost with the news that a four-nations tournament against strong opposition is to be held in Durban in June.

The SPAR Cup, which will feature South Africa, Argentina, Australia and India, will form part of South Africa’s preparations for the important eight-nations Champions Challenge to be played in Cape Town in October.  The Champions Challenge involves the countries ranked from seventh to 12th in the world, as well as the team that finished sixth in the previous Champions Trophy.  The winner of the Challenge competes in the next Champions Trophy.

Argentina are ranked second in the world, and Australia fifth, while India are ranked 14th – two places below South Africa.  The opportunity to play strong opposition in a tournament situation will provide South Africa with much-needed international experience in a tournament situation. 

The Australian coach, Frank Murray, was enthusiastic about the tournament.

 “Durban will be the first time our players have been together since the Olympic Games in Beijing last year,” he said. “With more than half of the Beijing Squad now retired, it will be a great opportunity for the younger ones to step on the international stage and show us that they should be part of our plans through to the Olympic Games in London in 2012. “The four teams competing cover a broad range of playing styles and it will be good for our younger players to experience this. “We are looking forward to visiting and playing in Durban - none of our players nor staff have been to Durban before,” he said.

SPAR Marketing Director Roelf Venter said the supermarket chain were delighted to be able to sponsor the tournament.

 “Having supported Hockey for over 13 years, The SPAR GROUP LTD sees the importance of assisting in areas that have traditionally been overlooked by sponsors. By Inviting International teams to tour our country it provides our players with the opportunity to play with the best in the world so they can gain valuable experience .In addition to this it also gives SPAR the opportunity to create the awareness and raise the profile of not only the sport of Hockey but the players as well .We are extremely proud of our association with our national women's team and are committed to supporting women's sport in South Africa”

The tournament will be played on a round robin bases with teams finishing in position one and two on the log, toughing it out in a final played on the 6th of June. Two matches takes place on each scheduled playing day. All matches are played at the Queensmead Hockey Stadium.

Source: SA Hockey / BLD Communications