The Bellville Velodrome has played host to some outstanding events over the years, with numerous concerts having taken place here over the years. This year it is playing host to the South African Inter Provincial Indoor Hockey tournament. 3 days of frenetic hockey will be played out to see which province can lay claim to the title of South African Champions.
With a strong PSi feel to this IPT, thanks to the PSI stepping in to support SA Hockey on organising this year’s event, which also acts as trials for the national men’s and women’s teams (The ladies play Namibia in Namibia in November, while the men take on the All Stars in December), there is a bit of a festive feel to IPT. There is a lot more importance than that though.
The group stages have now been completed and there is a question burning on the lips of many supporters down here, can anyone stop the Raiders? In the ladies competition, the team, captained by SA Indoor Hockey Legend Cindy Hack (nee Botha), blasted through the group stages with a goal difference of 20. Having a team that can field a full squad of national players, even with a few variations, leaves Coach Lennie Botha in a very good situation. Cindy, Eloise Walters, Kara Stella and Shelley Higgo helped themselves to goals on a regular basis and they look like a team that is going to be difficult to stop!
Western Province topped the other group but were reliant on Jenna Cunliffe popping up with a penalty corner to keep them undefeated with a 3-3 draw against Inland. While Southern Gauteng are also looking dangerous with David Joshua’s side building their approach through a defence first approach.
The men’s tournament asked the same questions as the Raiders side, which looks almost like an SA Select side, marched through their group games by overcoming Gauteng neighbours Wits and Easterns. WP dispatched of the same two opponents leaving a gripping battle for top spot between the two favourites of the tournament. The game that followed showed remarkable quality at times and after inspired goalkeeping by Richard Curtis keeping them 2-1 up, the Raiders raised their intensity, found a new gear and raced away with Jethro Eustice, Justin Domleo and national skipper Matt Fairweather pulling out and all-star display.
Southern Gauteng emerged as the team to beat in their group as legendary SA Indoor hockey stars Dylan Piatti and PG Geldenhuys were partnered by rising talents Brandon James and Kamal Ramburth-Hurth. They had to work hard to secure victory over Inland but were comfortable in group games against Mpumalanga (Who incredibly have a 14 year old in their squad!) and Pens. If anyone from this group will stop the Raiders, it will have to be the Southern side.
Tonight all the quarter-finals take place, before tomorrow sees the conclusion of the tournament with the semi-finals and the final.