THE stage is set for a memorable week of university hockey fun and games in Pietermaritzburg.
The 2015 University Sport South Africa (USSA) Hockey Week begins Monday and the 16 teams in the elite A Section men’s and women’s tournaments will do battle in their respective tournaments at the University of KZN Greenfields Turf in the Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road in Scottsville, as well as at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf opposite Harry Gwala Stadium.
A host of national players will be on show alongside their varsity team-mates and the outcome of the eight-team men’s, and eight-team women’s, A Section tournaments are tough ones to predict.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) men’s team are the reigning USSA Week title holders, as well as the Varsity Cup title holders. UJ won both tournaments in 2014. This year there was no Varsity Cup men’s competition.
The defending USSA Week women’s champions are the University of Stellenbosch (Maties) while the UJ women won this year’s Varsity Cup competition with University of the Free State (Kovsies) the runners-up.
However, there are a number of very good teams in the A Section men’s and women’s competitions and it all depends on the day, the nature of the match, and the individual moment.
The elite A Section men’s event features UJ in Pool A along with University of KZN (UKZN), Maties, and University of Pretoria (Tuks). Pool B showcases Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (Madibaz), Kovsies, University of Cape Town (Ikeys) and Wits University (Wits).
The elite A Section women’s event has Maties, UJ, Tuks and Varsity College in Pool A. The teams in Pool B are North West University Potchefstroom (Pukke), followed by Kovsies, Madibaz and Ikeys.
The Pool A and Pool B matches alternate between men’s and women’s matches from 8.30 am throughout the day, the last match starting at 5.50 pm. This is from Monday to Wednesday. Thursday and Friday see the last match begin at 6.10 pm. The women’s final is at 3.30 pm on Friday with the men’s final at 6.10 pm.
Monday’s A Section matches at UKZN see the Pukke women face Kovsies at 8.30 am; followed by Madibaz men versus Kovsies men at 10.10 am; and the Ikeys men vs Wits men match-up at 11.15 am. At 1.30 pm Maties men tackle Tuks men; at 3.10 pm Maties women face UJ women, while the day’s final match sees the UKZN men up against UJ men at 5.50 pm.
At the AB Jackson, the Ikeys women play Madibaz women at 10 am before the Tuks women meet Varsity College at 11.30 am.
Meanwhile, another 29 university teams — from Zululand to Mafikeng — take part in the men’s and women’s B and C Sections. Their matches take place at the AB Jackson, Maritzburg College and Epworth astro hockey turfs