Varsity hockey give their side of the story

2009-06-12 00:00

There have been ongoing complaints that Varsity hockey club use non-student players, subsidise their subs, and weaken the other clubs.

Varsity’s sports officer for hockey, Reggie Smith, yesterday addressed the criticisms, explainingt the state of KZN Inland Hockey and how it relates to Varsity.

“As KZN Inland Hockey we have to decide are we an A section IPT province, are we a B section province or a Country Districts province,” Smith told The Witness yesterday.

“If we are an A section province, we have to make sure our top players are exposed to good coaching and quality competition. To be a top province you require a number of quality players that are above university age in your provincial team.

“The problem is that other clubs in KZN Inland are not doing much to improve their situation. There is no drive in other clubs. As a result, players find Varsity more attractive. The problem of other clubs’ failings cannot be blamed on Varsity.”

Smith said that in all other provinces the universities are open clubs, and the universities are the strongest and sustain the provinces.

“If KZN Inland had to weaken Varsity we could be selling ourselves down the river. There is potential of a provincial National Hockey league, and we have to make sure we stay in the A section. If it means Varsity is the vehicle, then we should be supporting Varsity.”

Smith said the University Hockey Club’s membership fee system is totally above board, is open to anyone who wants to have a look at it, and the public is welcome to contact him at the Varsity Sports Office for the information.

“Our student structure and our Varsity hockey club have the right to determine their sports policies. The Varsity club is also trying to grow and get stronger, and as such has a right to strive to be successful,” he said.

“As KZN Inland Hockey we need a stronger partnership with Varsity, and we need to come up with strategies how best we can ensure Varsity remains strong and contributes to building the other clubs. That is, if we agree Varsity is the vehicle for success …

“I think if KZN Inland had to also invest in the recruitment of school-leavers to come study at Varsity, it gives Inland a controllable as they will help Varsity with recruitment and in return can expect Varsity to feed other clubs.

“… It must be noted that at present Varsity is technically a sponsor of the KZN Inland Hockey Association. We subsidise our students with a percentage of their accommodation and transport costs for IPTs. As the bulk of the Inland teams are Varsity students this comes to a substantial amount if one considers all the senior and U21 IPTs …

“We need a more professional approach to Inland Hockey and we have to start thinking out of the box, and for that the status quo cannot remain.”

Meanwhile, there is only one change to the Spar SA women’s hockey team for the Africa Cup in Ghana next month. Kate Woods is not available and is replaced by KZN Coastals’ Kelly Madsen.

SA need to win to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in Argentina.

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