WHILE he hopes the South African women's hockey team will continue to improve and raise the level of their game, Australia coach Frank Murray will no doubt prefer for their development to continue after this weekend.
South Africa play a crunch game against the Hockeyroos today for a place in tomorrow's Spar Cup four nations final with the hosts needing a win to go through and Australia gunning for a draw.
Murray obviously wants his side to dominate today but he hopes the South Africans - ranked 12th in the world - will become more of a force in world hockey over the next few years, a progression that will be vital to the continued development of women's sport.
Without South Africa's presence at the Olympics, Murray fears that women's hockey could be in danger of losing its status at the quadrennial Games.
"I think South Africa have done really well and for women's hockey it's very important that South Africa does do well," Murray said.
"Women's hockey is strong on every continent. It has a team that is competitive on every continent and South Africa are competitive with the top sides.
"The affirmative action programmes they've had over the last period of time appear to be working.
"Some of the players now are world class and I think in the future that's going to stand South Africa in good stead. I certainly hope so."
Murray might be backing the South Africans in the long run but he will hope for his team to at least draw today with an eye on tomorrow's final, where they or the Proteas are likely to face tournament favourites Argentina.
The Argentinians need to draw against India today but India, who have no chance of making the last two, have been the least impressive of the four teams this week and Argentina are almost certain to qualify for the final. - Sapa