Potch and PMB host Men and Women’s SA U21 Hockey IPT this week

2010-04-26 00:00

THE opening day of the week long South Africa U21 Interprovincial Hockey Tournaments for men and women get under way early today in Potchefstroom and Pietermaritzburg respectively.

In the KZN capital, the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf opposite the Harry Gwala Stadium in Princess Margaret Drive is the primary venue, where around 180 of the country’s most promising young women’s players, supplemented by the various umpires and officials, will gather, while Maritzburg College’s Pape’s Astro will host a third of the matches between the 12 teams.

Namibia have also sent their U21 women’s team, and their acceptance is a fine gesture by national governing body the SA Hockey Association (Saha) in assisting towards fostering the game in the southern African region.

The first match of IPT kicks off at 8 am today, with the final match of the day at 3 pm, while from tomorrow the first of the six matches daily begins at 9 am.

Hosts KZN Inland are in arguably the easier of the two pools, although coach Karl Oftebro’s side doesn’t appear to boast any natural game-breakers. One suspects that collective teamwork and team spirit will be vital to the home province’s fortunes in Pool B, where they meet North West at 3 pm at the AB Jackson today; Eastern Province (1 pm tomorrow); Northerns (3 pm on Wednesday); South Africa U18 (11 am on Thursday) and Southern Gauteng’s B side, Wits, at 11 am on Friday, all at the same venue.

Northerns and North West are sure to be Inland’s main rivals in Pool B, one suspects, while SA U18, Wits and EP can never be discounted.

Pool A appears to be the “pool of death” in the battle for top spot, with the traditionally strong KZN Coastal, Southern Gauteng and Western Province all fierce rivals, while Peninsula (Pens are WP’s second string line-up), Free State and Namibia are surely capable of causing an upset.

Coach Darryn Gallagher’s KZN Inland U21 men’s side are, like their female counterparts, also likely to find the going tough at their IPT in Potchefstroom, where they meet SA U18, EP, Free State, Wits and Pens in what is a relatively easier Pool A.

Pool B is the pool of death in Potch with Northerns, Border, Southerns, KZN Coastal, Free State and WP doing battle each day.

The Southerns U21 men’s side looks particularly powerful, with the likes of goalkeeper Michael Smith, Marc le Seur, brothers Brandon and Clinton Panther, Matt McGillivray and Dean Symons all notable names in coach Miguel da Graca’s squad.

Inland meet SA U18 at 1 pm at the impressive Pukke Hockey Academy complex in Potchefstroom today, while the Southerns versus KZN Coastals and WP against hosts North West games should be notable clashes.

WOMEN’S U21 FIXTURES

(All at ABJ unless indicated).

8 am SA U18 vs Northerns; 9.45 am KZN Coastal vs Pens; 11.30 am Southern Gauteng vs WP; 1.15 pm EP vs Wits; 3 pm North West vs KZN Inland; 3 pm Free State vs Namibia (Maritzburg College).

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