All three teams taking part in the SPAR CUP internationally sanctioned women’s tournament in Randburg – South Africa, Canada and Russia – have plenty to play for.
For South Africa, who have already qualified for the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, the tournament is another opportunity to hone their skills and get some much-needed international competition.
Canada and Russia will both be hosting Olympic qualifying tournaments later this year. Both teams will have tough competition in their qualifying tournaments, with teams ranked well above them in contention for the one Olympic berth available.
Canada, ranked 23rd in the world, are grouped with Korea (9), Ireland (14), Italy (19) and Malaysia (25) while Russia, who are ranked 20th, take on the United States (11), India (13), Netherlands Antilles (20), and Belgium (28).
With South Africa currently ranked 12, the Spar Cup will provide both teams with valuable experience playing a team ranked well above them, as well as the opportunity for some warm weather training for the two northern hemisphere teams.
“The tournament is very important to us,” said South African coach Jenny King. “They have different styles of play, and with the Olympics coming up in less than six months, the more experience we have playing teams with different styles, the better. It is also important for us to play a lot of hockey in a short space of time, as that is what will happen in Beijing. It will give us an opportunity to measure our fitness and to see how quickly we can recover from a hard game.
“What we also need to do is make sure we get a number of circles entries, and capitalize on our goal-scoring opportunities,” she added. “We are not going to get as many goal scoring opportunities in Beijing, so we have to learn to capitalize on the ones we get.
“I hope it’s very hot next week. It is going to be very hot in Beijing, so we need to get used to playing in hot weather.”
The following players have been selected to represent the SPAR SA Team at the SPAR Cup 3 Nations Tournament.
SPAR SA TEAM:
Mariette Rix (WP), Sanani Mangisa(Nor), Cindy Brown (WP), Taryn Hosking(WP),Vidette Ryan (WP), Lenise Marais (WP), Lisa Deetlefs (SG), Kim Hubach (WP), Fiona Butler(SG), Marsha Marescia (SG), Lesle Ann George (NW), Tarryn Bright (WP), Kate Hector (WP), Kelly Madsen (KZN), Henna du Buisson (WP),Kathleen Taylor (WP), Vida Ryan (WP), Farrah Fredericks (WP).
Monday 25 February, 16:00 South Africa – Russia
Tuesday 26 February, 16:00 Canada – Russia
Wednesday 27 February, 16:00 South Africa – Canada
Thursday 28 February, 16:00 South Africa – Russia
Friday 29 February, 16:00 Canada – Russia
Saturday 1 March, 15:00 South Africa – Canada
Source: BLD Communications.