Hockey champs a draw-card

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

BANGKOK - Mexican and Malaysian university sports federations have already confirmed their participation in the 2008 World Student Hockey Championships in Johannesburg in May.

This was confirmed yesterday by Glen Bentley, president of the South African Student Sports Union (Sassu) at a media briefing held at Team South Africa offices at the 24th World Student Games.

"We are absolutely delighted that Mexico and Malaysia have already informed us that they will be sending their hockey teams to take part in the tournament in South Africa next year," said Bentley.

"The tournament has seemingly generated a lot of interest within the world university sports family. Many people have indicated to us that they are looking forward to visiting the next [soccer] World Cup host country.

"It is clear that many people want to use the hockey tournament to gain first-hand experience of South Africa before the 2010 World Cup. We will be able to divulge the names of other countries later in the year.

"There are more than 155 countries taking part in the World Student Games. As South Africa we will be happy to attract about 30 because we know that hockey is not played everywhere in the world.

"We are planning to engage Cucsa [the Council of Universities and Colleges Sports Association in Southern Africa] to start planning for the tournament. Our plan is to see more Africans being part of it.

"We intend meeting Gauteng MEC for sports, arts, culture and recreation Barbara Creecy when we get back home because the tournament is in line with their policy of making Gauteng a home for competitive sports.

"It will be a huge tournament, that is why we need the support of the Gauteng provincial government," said Bentley, adding that the hockey tournament will be played at the University of Johannesburg.

"We have already appointed a Local Organising Committee for the tournament which is led by Adrian Carter, a man with massive experience in a far as hockey is concerned with more than 17 clubs under his administration."

Meanwhile, Sassu will also be hosting the 2008 World Golf Student Championships in Sun City in September. Bentley said they will also be meeting the North West provincial government for assistance.

l Rising Ugandan sports administrator Peninnah Kabenge has commended Sassu for supporting her during the Federation of International University Sports elections.

This was after Kabenge made history this week when she became the first African woman to be elected to serve on the Fisu executive committee at its general assembly in Thailand.

Kabenge, employed by the University of Makerere in Kampala as a sports director, is also the deputy chairman of the Federation of African University Union, which is led by Algerian Assan Cheik.