Tyron Barnard

The African Hockey Indoor Cup of Nations takes place this weekend in Swakopmund where Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe will play off for a spot in the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup. The desert town on the coast of Namibia is the host for the tournament as Africa’s best do battle.

The SPAR South African ladies side captained by Cindy Hack know that in Namibia they will face an opponent who has tested them more frequently over the last 24 months and will need to be at their best to ward off any surprises.

Lennie Botha, hoping to lead the SPAR South Africa women to a second World Cup, was delighted with the preparation of his side, sharing: “We are feeling really good and excited for the tournament to start, our preparation has be really good. We also used training today to get used to the bigger and quicker court.”

The court being used is the inline hockey court at the Dome in Swakopmund, a sensational base for sports. The court has been made out to maximum FIH ruling of 44m and should offer the two South African fans a bit more joy as time and space will be more prevalent.

“We are at full strength which we haven’t been for previous series” added Botha “but we are confident that we can get the job done with the players selected.”

The South African Men are probably favoured even more than the ladies and were able to bring a full strength team thanks to the backing of main sponsor Tops @ Spar as the title sponsor as well as the conglomeration of Blue T Hockey, Cutstudio and Teahupoo. These incredible companies came to the party to ensure that the SA Men would be at their best here in Namibia.

Although three of the men playing for the SA Men’s side will be receiving their first official cap, every one of them has represented the green and gold in the exhibition series against the All Stars at the various PSi National tournaments. Coach Pierre le Roux believes his team are ready to go.

“We are glad to be here. We cant wait to get playing and have used our training session to get used to a very quick surface. Namibia are playing in front of a home crowd and they should be fired up, so we need to stick to our structures and do what we have to do!”

Of course the unknown entity for both the SPAR SA Women and the Tops @ Spar SA Men are the Zimbabwean who they have not played before. Both Botha and le Roux admitted as much with le Roux adding.

“We don’t know much about Zimbabwe, but we are really excited to have them here. The more countries we get playing indoor hockey in Africa, the better it will be for the development of our game!”

The tournament features a round robin stage where you play each opponent twice before the top 2 nations play off on Sunday morning in the winner takes all final and confirms their place at the Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin in 2018.

There is no television coverage of the event confirmed at present, however you can follow updates on Twitter @TyronBarnard who is with the team in Namibia.