Hockey stars set to shine in new South African Premier Hockey League
South Africa hockey is about to burst onto the public stage this weekend with the start of the inaugural Premier Hockey League (PHL) – an exciting new hockey format, starring top players and drawing support from a wide range of commercial organisations.
The first games take place on Saturday 3 September, with the League concluding weekend of 24 September after four weeks of world class, action packed hockey.
The league has grabbed the attention of broadcast giant SuperSport who have committed to showing this event across a range of platforms to fans across the continent over the next month.
The South African Hockey Association (SAHA) took the decision to create the PHL in a bid to rejuvenate and transform the sport in South Africa. It is hoped that the glittering new event will draw in both participants and fans and inspire young people to get involved in hockey.
While South Africa is the strongest hockey nation on the African continent, when it comes to international competition, a lack of experience of regular top quality opposition often proves a barrier to the national teams. This is one of the drivers behind the PHL, giving national players a chance to play intensive, high performance hockey.
The six men’s and six women’s teams are all franchise teams owned by the SAHA and the names have been inspired by South African culture and represent all nine provinces.
Teams include the Addo Elephants, Drakensburg Dragons, the Maropeng Cavemen, Blyde River Bunters, Madikwe Rangers and Namaqualand Daisies.
To ensure that South African hockey continues to grow at performance level, two of the teams will comprise the men’s and women’s U21 national teams, preparing these young players for future international competition – this year, for example, the U21s will be competing in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Junior World Cups.
The event runs over four weekends in September and has the full support of the Department of Sport and Recreation. The inaugural event will see all the matches played at the Randburg Astro in Johannesburg and the tournament format consists of a league stage and a play-off stage.
What makes this event so ground-breaking is the seamless link between the sport and commercial partners. The event has two main partners – technical apparel partners Grays and hotel partner Tsogo Sun – as well as team sponsorship from major companies such as Nestle, Greenfields, Milo and Lip Ice.
And in yet another move that helps the event achieve its goal of attracting people to the sport, broadcast giant SuperSport has agreed an exclusive five year deal to broadcast selected matches from the PHL.
For the 2016 event, 24 of the 40 PHL games, including all Semi-Finals and both Finals will be broadcast live across all SuperSport platforms, including television, mobile and online – throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
A further eight PHL games will be streamed exclusively live via the SuperSport website and will be repeated, on a delayed basis, on selected SuperSport broadcast channels.
This initiative from the SAHA hits all four core targets of the FIH Hockey Revolution as well as the five key initiatives at the heart of the strategy.
As an event it is fan-focused; playing, coaching and officiating in this high end event is all part of high performing sport; the media coverage will take the event to a much wider audience and sponsor’s interest demonstrates that there are global and local commercial partners ready to support hockey.
There is no doubt that the event will attract many, many new followers from across the world, which is the key aim of the FIH's Hockey Revolution - to make hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.
To follow all the action, visit the official PHL website and follow #PHL2016