This season’s high intensity and nail-biting hockey season is set to reach its climax at UJ stadium on 19 May 2014, after two days of semi and three-quarter play-offs.
The Varsity Sports Programme, now in its second successful year, has brought the excitement of USA college sports to an enthusiastic and receptive South African sporting public. What could be more exciting than a combination of smart outfits, toned bodies and enthusiastic teams competing for honours at the highest level? So, pack up the family and come and support your team. The pace is fast – this is university sport at its best, with non-stop action being the order of the day.
“Many promising young sportsmen and women are coming through the Varsity Sports Programme,” says Trent Key, Marketing and Sponsorship Executive for Varsity Sports. “Brothers, Brendan Panther and Clinton Panther, lead the pack, with both of them representing South Africa. Brendan came from St Benedict`s College, after already displaying a keen interest in hockey, and was automatically placed on the team. After 14 years of playing, Brendan’s ambition is to play in the 2016 Olympic Games. Fresh from playing at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the annual international men’s field hockey tournament, which took place in Malaysia in March of this year, Brendan is set to provide tough competition for his opponents. Clinton, younger brother and no stranger to the hockey field, is following in his brother’s footsteps and as a middle fielder, has already achieved no fewer than 69 National Men’s Caps to date.
“It will be a privilege to see our future sporting heroes in action again,” says Trent. “One of the advantages of the Varsity Sports programme, is that it brings the excitement right to one’s doorstep.”
During last year’s ladies’ final, Maties managed to beat the team from NWU-Pukke by one goal, in what was a tightly contested final held at the University of Pretoria. The men take their turn on the battlefield this year. Rest assured, winning won’t come easy. With some of the country’s finest young players coming through the university ranks and fighting hard for their teams, this will be hard-fought victory, with no quarter being given by any side.
After a very successful year in 2013, the participating universities in the Varsity Sports programme will once again compete across six sporting codes during 2014. The men’s hockey will be followed by the football programme from 21 July to 15 September; netball from 15 September to 20 October; and rugby sevens and beach volleyball from 28 to 30 November.
Participating universities across all six sporting codes are: The University of Limpopo (UL); Free State (Kovsies); Pretoria (Tuks); Stellenbosch (Maties); NMMU (Port Elizabeth); North-West University (Pukke); Rhodes University; University of Fort Hare (UFH); Tshwane University of Technology (TUT); Vaal University of Technology; The University of Cape Town (UCT); the University of the Western Cape (UWC); the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits); and the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
The Varsity Sports arena is the ideal place for our up and coming athletes to show their metal. Whether this is a personal best, a national record or merely the honour of competing for your university against some of the best sportsmen in the country, this is the place to be and be seen. Market-leading brands sponsor the platform, with FNB, Samsung, Mugg & Bean and Jet as the lead sponsors for Hockey. Says Lee-Ann Cullingworth, Marketing Manager at Mugg & Bean: “We are proud to be associated with Varsity Hockey and are committed to promoting the future development of hockey as a sport, to nurture young, future stars and let them shine. Ultimately, our goal is to see these future stars represent our country in the SA Men’s national side, of which Mugg & Bean is also a proud sponsor.”
“Each event will be televised on SuperSport,” says Duitser Bosman, CEO of Varsity Sports. “We are also eternally grateful to our sponsors, FNB, Cell C, Famous Brands Group, Samsung, and the Edcon Group. Without their ongoing commitment to sport, our athletes would find it difficult to maintain the high performance standards required at the top level.” Varsity Sports is part of Advent Sport Entertainment & Media (Pty) Ltd. (ASEM), which is headed by SA rugby legend Francois Pienaar.
“While the creation of an exciting platform from which our future sporting heroes can aspire to even higher levels is our primary goal, we are also helping to integrate sportsmen at every level and from every background,” says Bosman. “The team spirit and spectator support that is clearly evident at our events is proof of this.” The crowd participation is always enthusiastic, the Varsity Sports events are different – they’re fast-paced and adrenalin-driven. “Don’t miss an event,” says Bosman. “The spirit shown by spectators and athletes alike is riveting – the events are always action-packed and fun for everyone.”
Hockey has always been an enjoyable sport for spectators of all ages. The game is easy to understand and the competitive spirit of the athletes as they vie for team honour shouldn’t be missed. This is happening, right here, right now – so come along and shout for your team, the louder the better! For those living further afield, be sure to watch all the drama unfold by following non-stop Varsity Sports action on SuperSport channel 210 this Sunday & Monday.