Youth Day Hockey Festival

Keithon Thompson receives the ball after Nathan Carney (back) passes it to him.

To expose hockey to a wider audience, South African Hockey and Gauteng Sport and Recreation have sanctioned a hockey development programme for Region C.

Together with In Touch, Wings, Westbury Villas and New Rovers Hockey Clubs, the programme is run every Saturday morning at Cecil Payne Stadium. Since the majority of the young participants come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the programme is run free of charge. The stadium is also the venue for the clubs’ annual Youth Day hockey festival.

Equipment for learning and playing hockey was provided as almost 200 children from 26 schools in Regions B and C participated. Current and former national hockey players put the children through their paces in the fun hockey games and coaching drills.

Mervyn Mooi from the Ward 70 Sports Council said he was happy with the turnout and the success of the event, but lamented the lack of public hockey fields in Roodepoort.

“Outside of Cecil Payne Stadium, there are no hockey facilities that cater for children from disadvantaged areas. At schools, the facilities are there for the school children, and the clubs that have astro turf fields charge outsiders a fortune to use them. This is a major constraint for us as we’d love to grow the sport, especially in disadvantaged areas,” he said.

The festival is not only hosted on Youth Day but other public holidays such as Human Rights Day. The next festival will be on 9 August, Women’s Day. The aim is to keep children occupied with healthy activities during their free time .

“In numbers, hockey is bigger than soccer because it is a family-oriented sport that isn’t biased towards one gender. It’s marginalised in Gauteng because it faces a lot of difficulties in poor areas. We need funding, kits, equipment, transport and coaching resources for the sport to develop. That is what we’re working towards,” said Mervyn.

For more information on the programme, contact Mervyn on 083 308 2525.

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  AUTHOR
Sonwabile Antonie
Journalist

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