Queenstown Girls’ High School team 740

Umtata High School aim to make their presence felt when they make their debut in the East London Inland leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge in Queenstown on Sunday (May 22).

The tournament newcomers will join nine other teams in the fifth and final regional leg of the annual competition, with the champions receiving the prize of qualifying for the provincial finals in Gqeberha on August 13 and 14.

DSG (PE Inland), Collegiate (PE Coastal), Outeniqua (Southern Cape) and Clarendon (EL Coastal) have already secured their places in the grand finale.

Umtata coach Sihle Nadame said there was an air of excitement among the squad members.

“Because we don’t have any other hockey teams to play in and around Mthatha, we are affiliated to the Amathole Sports Association and have to travel considerable distances to play teams such as Stutterheim, George Randell and Berlin,” he explained.

“When I heard about the Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge, I thought it was a great chance to give the girls some further exposure.”

He added that he knew they would be facing a stiff challenge in Queenstown, where hosts Queenstown Girls’ High School (GHS) will be attempting to retain their title.

“We have a very young side, with most of the players in the U16 category, but we are up for the challenge,” said Ndamane. “Our aim is to go out there and make the most of this opportunity.”

Queenstown Girls’ High School team 740

The Queenstown Girls’ High hockey team will be defending their title in the East London Inland leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge in Queenstown on Sunday. The tournament has not been held for two years because of Covid-19. Photo: Supplied

Tournament director Bev Forword said it was encouraging to see new faces at the event, which covers all four corners of the Eastern and Southern Cape regions.

“This tournament is about creating opportunities for all schools to play competitive hockey and that’s why it is so good to welcome Umtata High onboard this year.”

“We have a bumper entry of 10 teams divided into two [round-robin] sections,” she said.

With Covid causing a disruption, the event was last held in 2019 when GHS ended Kingsridge’s run of triumphs after edging them 1-0 in a penalty shootout.

Those two teams will again head the pools but should face spirited competition from the rest. The respective pool winners will contest the final.

Alan Stapleton, who oversees SPAR EC’s sponsorships and events portfolio, explained that one important element of the tournament was to expose schools to opposition in different regions.

“On the other hand, it is about competing in a fun environment that is conducive to fostering camaraderie and new friendships.”

Matches will be played over 20 minutes, one way, and streamed on the SuperSport Schools platform.


Pool A: Kingsridge, Aliwal North, Hangklip, Templeton, St Christopher’s.
Pool B: Queenstown Girls’ High, Stutterheim, Burgersdorp, De Vos Malan, Umtata High.