SA hockey players up for auction IPL style

2012-10-24 00:00

MIDFIELDER Austin Smith, the South Africa men’s hockey captain, heads a group of his national team-mates who will be up for auction next month to the six franchises that make up the inaugural Hockey India League, which is based on the IPL cricket model and will involve 33 matches from January 5 to February 3 in India.

The double Olympian from Western Province is joined by defender and penalty corner drag-flick star Justin Reid Ross of Northern Blues (63 goals in 91 Test matches), fleet-footed striker Lloyd Norris Jones of Western Province (46 goals in 90 matches), experienced Southern Gauteng forward Thornton McDade (27 goals in 94 games), KZN Coastal Raiders centre back Lloyd Madsen (70 caps), Northern Blues defender Rhett Halkett (64 caps), Southern Gauteng goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse (60 Test matches) and 21-year-old midfielder Clinton Panther (34 caps) of Southern Gauteng.

All have played at the Olympic Games, while a number have also featured in the Hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games, among other big tournaments.

The SA players will join the rest of the best in world hockey in this first edition of the Hockey India League, which has negotiated a window in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) international calendar.

While the salaries and prize-money won’t be at the same level as that on offer to the IPL cricketers, this venture represents a welcome step towards rewarding the largely amateur SA players whose only chance of earning relatively modest money from the game has been as professionals in the top leagues in Europe.

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