Supermarket chain Spar has demonstrated its commitment to women’s hockey in South Africa by pledging R5 million (US$680,000) towards the sport over the next three years.

Spar, which has supported South African women’s hockey for the past 12 years, will sponsor the national team, the inter-provincial tournament and a four-nation international competition to be held in the country.

South Africa will participate in next year's Olympic Games if they progress from the qualifying event in Nairobi, Kenya in July.

Contracts for the new sponsorship deal were signed at the Spar headquarters in Pinetown on Monday morning and will be operative throughout until December 2009. Spar has supported women's hockey for the past 12 years.
"The more international hockey we play, the more we will learn," said captain Marsha Marescia. "Different teams have different styles and playing against them helps us to develop our strategies, and helps us to be able to deal with whatever comes our way," she added.
Dave Carr, president of the South African Hockey Association (Saha) said he was delighted at the news as they had enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the sponsors over the years.