The intro of the next chapter in the Varsity Sports story will be written next weekend, when the country’s eight top women’s hockey university teams gather in Potchefstroom for the first round of Varsity Hockey action.
This new hockey competition will commence only five days after the first Varsity Athletics meet on Monday in Stellenbosch. Both competitions are managed and operated by Asem Varsity Sports.
The competition, sponsored by First National Bank (FNB) and Mugg & Bean, will feature the eight university teams who will contest this year’s USSA A Hockey Tournament for women.
They are the North West University (Pukke), the University of Pretoria (Tuks), University of Stellenbosch (Maties), University of Free State (Kovsies), the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), University of Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Each team will play eight matches: seven round robin games and a playoff match to decide positions.
The first three round robin games will take place at the astro fields of the North West University in Potchefstroom, on 20, 21 and 22 April. On the final day two matches will be televised live on Supersport.
Due to the South African Under-21 competition, taking place between 29 April and 5 May, the second round of Varsity Hockey will take place on 11, 12 and 13 May, with four teams playing at the University of the Free State and four at the University of Johannesburg.
The last round robin matches will be decided on 19 May at the University of Pretoria, and the playoff matches will take place on 20 May at the same field.
Women’s hockey was included in the Varsity Sports schedule because it is an Olympic sport. University hockey has been a rich breeding ground for the national team for years.
“It is an exciting time for South African women’s hockey, as demonstrated by the Proteas’ excellent performances earlier this year against quality opposition like England, Australia and Belgium. Here at Varsity Sports we are excited to get involved in women’s hockey, especially with an eye on the next Olympic Games, in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro,” said Francois Pienaar, CEO of Asem (Advent Sport Entertainment & Media Pty Ltd.).
“This initiative provides a new platform between high school and professional level for the country’s most promising youngsters – and will hopefully reduce the talent drain of players in their late teens and early twenties.”
Ten Varsity Hockey matches will be televised live on SuperSport, with each team involved in at least two of those. On 22 April the matches between Maties and Kovsies and Pukke and UJ will be televised from Potchefstroom, followed immediately by the second Varsity Athletics meet in Johannesburg.
The schedule in Potchefstroom:
Saturday, 20 April:
17:00: Pukke vs Maties
17:00: Kovsies vs NMMU
18:30: UJ vs Tuks
18:30: Wits vs UCT
Sunday, 21 April
14:30: Tuks vs Maties
14:30: Wits vs UJ;
16:00: NMMU vs Pukke
16:00: UCT vs Kovsies
Monday, 22 April
14:30: UCT vs Tuks
14:30: Wits vs NMMU
16:00: Maties vs Kovsies
17:30: Pukke vs UJ