‘Varsity monopoly is destroying KZN club hockey’

2009-06-17 00:00

THE president of KZN Inland Hoc­key, Gary Carson, is addressing issues in what is a crisis year for the health of the game here, but most of the province’s woes always point back to one problem — the relationship between its strongest club and the governing body.

Varsity’s monopoly of the senior game in the province is detrimental to the province’s health, according to Carson. And it all boils down to non-students playing hockey for what is an educational institution designed for those studying there.

“We as an association applaud [head of Varsity hockey] Reggie Smith’s efforts to build the sport at the institution,” said Carson. “Varsity have the finance for hockey bursaries and quality coaching, but our concern is that once a player has finished Varsity he stays at the club, and that is diluting the strength of our Premier League and the other clubs.”

Carson said there are about half- a-dozen non-students in the Varsity first-team squad. He has no problem with a non-student in Darryn Gallagher being player/coach.

Indeed, Gallagher played in the Beijing Olympics, has the makings of a national coach and brings enormous expertise to the students.

Carson even has no problem with a player only studying one subject, but it’s the rest of the non-students, he says, who could be making a massive difference to the other clubs.

“Instead of being a breeding ground for the other clubs, Varsity are destroying our league. These non-student players should be filtering into the other clubs on a year-on-year basis, strengthening the league and thereby giving Varsity more competition than a 15-0 win against the next-best club.”

If the power imbalance remains, there could be a situation in a year or two where Varsity have no one to play against. No one enjoys a 15-0 drubbing. Better to play golf on Sundays.

Carson says the situation has reached the point where a hockey bursary student can’t get a regular place in the Varsity first-team squad. He says there are even non-students playing for Varsity seconds, forcing genuine students to play in the lower-league third team.

“We understand the concept of an open Varsity club, but what are they building for? For various reasons there hasn’t been a national club championship for two years, while the SA Varsities Week is only available to full-time students.

“Somewhere along the line … the vision needs to be established that we are trying to build Inland hockey and not just one club.”

Result — Premier League: Varsity B 2 Standard A 1.

• Former SA goalkeeper Dave Staniforth is holding goalkeeping clinics from 4 pm to 5.30 pm this Friday and next Friday at the AB Jackson. Contact the Hockey Office at 033 394 4612.

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