Competition may be fierce on the field at the Premier Hockey League (PHL), but the spirit of the game has shone through on the opening day of the Premier Hockey League at the Randburg Astro as the other 10 teams have all decided to donate 50% of their player of the match prizemoney to the SA U21 men’s and women’s teams’ FIH Junior World Cup (JWC) tour fund.
The Department of Sport and Recreation are providing R5000 for every player of the match award through the four weekends of the tournament, with the SA U21s putting whatever money they win from that towards the expenses of the men’s team travelling to India and the women to Chile.
But the other 10 teams have agreed to donate 50% of their winnings too, meaning the tour fund should be boosted by R125 000.
The U21 men play their world cup from December 8-18 in Lucknow, while the women’s tournament is in Santiago from November 24 to December 4.
Emile Smith, the South African Hockey Association’s Head of High Performance, was ecstatic that all the franchise players had decided to make such a magnanimous gesture.
“This speaks to the quality of the athletes in our sport and their singular mindset that understands that the future of our game is in the youth, and they understand the difficulties we have sometimes in terms of circumstances in those structures.
“I’m sure this wonderful gesture will contribute enormously to both the sustainability and the performance of our national U21 squads,” Smith, a two-time Olympian, said.
The national women’s U21 team, under the guidance of coach Patrick Tshutshani, are playing under the guise of the Lip Ice Namaqualand Daisies and open their PHL campaign at 4pm on Saturday against the Private Property Wineland Wings, while the junior men, playing as the Private Property Golden Gate Gladiators, take on the Schick Garden Route Gazelles at 6pm.