Hudson Park became the third team to qualify for the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge finals when they won the East London Coastal tournament at Clarendon High on Sunday.
The tournament involved eight teams from East London and culminated in an exciting finish in the semi-finals when Clarendon edged Stirling 2-1 and Hudson beat Lilyfontein 4-0.
In the final, Hudson claimed the honours with a 1-0 win over Clarendon to join Collegiate and DSG in the Eastern Cape finals to be played at Woodridge outside Port Elizabeth in August.
Collegiate won the PE Coastal section last month, while DSG were crowned PE Inland champions in early May.
With matches limited to 25 minutes one way, the eight schools were divided into two pools of four. Hudson, Stirling, Greenpoint and West Bank comprised pool one while Clarendon, Cambridge, John Bisseker and Lilyfontein contested the other.
The SPAR Schoolgirls Challenge is aimed at giving exposure to schools who do not normally compete against each other, while ensuring there is a strong spirit of camaraderie.
“The sponsorship has meant that 60 schools in the East Cape have had the opportunity to compete,” said East London Coastal tournament organiser Bev Forword.
“The aim is to ensure that the girls have fun, while making new friends and ensuring that there is still a competitive element.”
She said DJ Ettienne and his son Graham ensured that there was a great vibe at the venue.
“It was a wonderful day of entertainment for the whole family and they certainly did turn out to support their teams.”
Young aspiring umpires are also given the opportunity to develop and further their careers through these tournaments.
“We were very fortunate to have the services of Deon Nel, who recently acquired his 100th umpiring test cap,” said Forword.
“He mentored the umpires and Jodie Delport was selected as the most promising, and will go on to umpire at the finals.”
The concept is the brainchild of former SA women’s hockey manager Les Galloway from KwaZulu-Natal, where the tournaments have been running for six years.
“It has really taken off in the Eastern Cape and it is so encouraging to see the girls’ teams getting a chance on this sort of platform to improve their play,” said Galloway, the SPAR Schoolgirls Challenge national director.
“It really is working well in the Eastern Cape and the tournament in East London was so well organised. There was a real sense of the community getting involved.”
The fourth tournament, East London Inland, will take place at Queenstown Girls’ High on Sunday.