On June 16, 2023, approximately 120 eager young hockey players gathered at Kingsmead College to participate in an inter-school U15 SPAR Schoolgirl’s Hockey Challenge. Streamed on Supersport Schools and supported by numerous noisy parents just ahead of Father’s Day, the 8 schools put on a fine display of junior girls hockey.
Numerous tight nil-nil encounters were interspersed with some high-scoring games keeping all the spectators close to the scenic Rosebank based school astro. Coffee and food stalls provided the parents and spectators with nourishment and some early morning warmth as the mercury started from rather low numbers.
Players, umpires and SPAR staff were all treated with SPAR goodies bags to sustain energy levels as the day progressed into the late afternoon to 4 play-off matches which would ultimately see a winner crowned after 3 pool matches and a play-off.
Pool A consisted of hosts Kingsmead College, Shumbas Hockey Club, Hoërskool Randburg and Meyerton High School Midvaal Gauteng. The hosts and Shumbas opened the day’s play with a draw before Randburg and Midvaal also played out a draw which would throw the group wide open to anyone who wanted to grab the points. In the second round, Randburg succumbed to Kingsmead by the odd goal while Shumbas put Midvaal to the sword. Kingsmead then outdid the Shumbas score on the Midvaal team while Shumbas repeated their score on Randburg.
The high scoring win against Randburg put Shumbas into the gold-medal game while Kingsmead had to settle for a third-place play-off match based on the goal difference in the Pool A.
Pool B’s opening match saw Beaulieu College overcome by Helpmekaar Kollege. This early defeat set the tone for the school from the Northern Suburbs as they also fell to St Mary’s in the next game and completed a dismal day in front of goal, failing to score in their third pool match against Hoërskool Linden as well. St Mary’s kept ticking along with tight margins and defeated Beaulieu College in their second match. The early pace-setters in pool B, Helpmekaar Kollege, were held to a draw in their second match by Hoërskool Linden and then subsequently in a scoreless draw against St Mary’s which put the Waverly school into the final against Shumbas.
With the pool matches played and the placings decided, the play-off matches could begin.
Midvaal, who had struggled all day to convert chances fell to Beaulieu College who suddenly found their scoring touch to finish 7th. Hoërskool Randburg fell to Hoërskool Linden by the odd goal placing Linden 5th. Hosts, Kingsmead also failed to score in the play-offs and finished 4th behind Helpmekaar Kollege which left the highly anticipated final between the free-scoring Shumbas and the conservative, in front of goal, St Mary’s team.
During the water breaks, Kingsmead put on a winning performance to win the dance-off. One lucky player from Helpmekaar Kollege won a new Princess hockey stick.
St Mary’s dominated an action-packed 30 minute final but their woes in front of goal persisted to the 29th minute when they finally struck and scored what would be the winner against a spirited Shumbas outfit.
Team photos: Margueriethe Sigg
Action Photos: Marcel Sigg