By Rethabile Nyelele
Image from teams’ social media accounts
The 2022 University Sports South Africa (USSA) Hockey will occur from 4 to 8 July 2022 at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Cape Town. It is the clash of the best field hockey between South African universities. Prior to the official games, the respective varsity teams attend camps for more training sessions and play friendly games with other teams.
“Our camp is taking place from 29th June until 1st July. I am quite excited to see what we as a team are capable of doing,” says Chemelda Ontong, the women’s captain of the University of Free State (UFS). She adds that they have a new and young team – each individual has something to add to the team as a whole based on the same mindset and goals.
The UFS women’s coach, Luke Makeleni, also shares the same confidence for the upcoming games. “Our league games went very well: we haven’t lost a game, so this is good for us. For the USSA preparations we will be playing games with the under-16 boys,” explains Makeleni. “With the group I picked, I am very confident. Although we have some top players missing [playing in Spain] and two injuries, I’m still confident.”
According to University of Pretoria (Tuks) men’s head coach, Siphesihle Ntuli, it could be a walk in the park for them. “We’re in a very good space. We’ve been working since January and I think we’ve reached the peak,” says Ntuli. He added how he organised friendly games for his team to prepare for this tournament and so far, they have done as much as they could.
Tuks women and men teams walked away with gold medals at the 2021 USSA Hockey Championships held at University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University), Johannesburg. Ntuli truly believes his team will again go far in the tournament.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) women’s coach, Tshoanelo Pholo, shared how the challenge is actually great for them and they are looking forward to it. She emphasised on the strength of her team and how it is exciting for the players to compete against their peers.
UJ men and women teams have recently won the 2022 Southern Gauteng Indoor Hockey League.
Overall, the participating Universities are UFS, Wits University, UJ, UCT, NMU Madibaz, Maties, Tuks, Varsity College, NWU Potch, Rhodes University, Namibia University, University of Limpopo, MUT, VUT, Limpopo, Sol Plaatje, Zululand, UKZN, UWC and TUT.