Defending champions DSG will take the approach of being the underdogs when the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge kicks off in Graaff-Reinet on Sunday.
This is the view of DSG captain Laura Campbell as the Makhanda school strive to land the Gqeberha North regional title for a fourth time.
The first of five regional events in the Eastern and Southern Cape will be hosted by Union High and feature eight schools, divided into two pools, vying for the coveted title.
Besides their victory a year ago, DSG were also crowned regional champions in 2016 and 2019, but Campbell said the past did not count for much this weekend.
“The whole squad is very excited and hopefully we can take the title again, but we know it will not be easy,” said the 17-year-old matric pupil.
“It’s difficult to say who will be the main rivals because teams change every year and you never know what to expect.
“We will just go in there with the mindset of being the underdogs and being prepared to work for every scoring opportunity.”
Campbell, who plays right-back, said the shorter format of the competition (matches are played over 20 minutes) created extra pressure.
“But my message to our team is that you just have to go into every game not worrying about what happened in the last match or what is to come.
“It’s a matter of staying in the moment and focusing only on the next thing you have to do.
“This is our first tournament of the year so I think it’s important not to worry too much about making mistakes because we have time to work on those sorts of things.”
The inaugural SPAR Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge took place in 2016 and this year a slight change has been introduced. The provincial finals, which were contested by the five regional champions, have been scrapped in favour of boosting the status of the regionals.
For Campbell, though, the thrill of being part of the tournament is unmatched.
“I played in it for the first time last year and I really do enjoy the shorter format and the whole vibe of the occasion.
“The main thing is that you get to meet a lot of different players because the way the day is structured allows more schools to enter.”
The music and announcer added another fun element to the day, said Campbell.
Action starts at 9am.
Pool A: DSG, Union High, Brandwag, Cradock High
Pool B: Kingswood, Volkskool, Victoria Girls’, Union Invitational