SA Hockey teams withdraw from Africa Games over critical pitch safety concerns

SA Hockey teams withdraw from Africa Games over critical pitch safety concerns
Zenani Kraai of South Africa during the Men's Hockey, preparation series Test against India at SACS on January 26, 2024 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

SA Hockey teams withdrawn from the Africa Games hockey competition due to concerns for player safety.

Concerns about injuries due to the state of the pitch prompted Team SA management at the Africa Games in Accra to take the unusual step of withdrawing its teams from the hockey competition.

Team SA said in a statement that the surface of the pitch was unsuitable for an international competition and that it couldn’t risk injury to players who have the Paris Olympics in their sights in August.

“Team SA has withdrawn both its men’s and women’s hockey teams from the 13th African Games currently underway in Accra, Ghana, based on recommendations and guidelines as set down by the International Hockey Federation (FIH),” the statement read.

“The decision was taken as a result of the venue not being sufficiently prepared to stage the competition. The Local Organising Committee (LOC) and African Hockey Federation have been informed of the decision taken by Team SA.

“Team SA have already qualified both men’s and women’s hockey teams for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and with the African Games being held in close proximity of Paris, it was deemed a potential injury risk if Team SA competed under the circumstances in Accra.”

Bianca Wood

Bianca Wood of South Africa during the Women’s Hockey, Summer Series 5th test match against France at SACS Hockey Field. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Surface issues

The problem relates to the carpeted surface, although exact details of the issue are not clear. According to information from Accra, the surface, manufactured in Germany, was only delivered to Accra last week.

In correspondence sent to the LOC, Team SA team leader Patience Shikwambana said: “Over and above making this decision, our SA Hockey Federation consulted with Sports Flooring Warehouse, a South African-based specialist in carpet laying, and an FIH-recognised service provider.

“They have also advised us — having analysed the images we shared with them — that the field is not satisfactory and may cause harm to the athletes.

“The rescheduling of the hockey competition, on three numerous occasions has, in addition, caused an inconvenience to us logistically, as a team, where we had to arrange for both the teams to fly to Ghana in time for the commencement of the competition.

“In the first Chef De Missions’ site visit meeting at the end of October 2023, we were advised that there would be test events to ensure readiness of venues before the start of each competition.

“This, unfortunately, has not been the case for hockey. In addition, according to the FIH field certification guideline, ‘If a field that is not certified is being considered as a tournament venue, it should be tested at the earliest convenience to demonstrate compliance with this specification’.

“These tests should be conducted months in advance before a competition – which, in this case, have not taken place.

“Furthermore, ‘the FIH has a number of accredited test institutes, and these have accredited engineers located around the world’, which we are not certain if they have been involved and provided the necessary certification.’” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Skerminkel the Third says:

    I hope they withdrew the times before everyone travelled to Accra.

  • Random Comment says:

    Amazing that there was a high school hockey tournament over the weekend, held at The Settlers HS in Bellville, which was played exclusively on AstroTurf…

    A group of high school teachers and parents can put on a better hockey tournament for kids than the entire COUNTRY of Ghana can for the African Games.

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