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South Africa’s hockey men celebrate victory over Germany at Tokyo Olympics (Getty)
South Africa will join the world’s elite in the FIH Men’s Hockey Pro League next year after several teams pulled out of the season due to Covid-19.
The South African Hockey Association revealed on Wednesday that the men’s team, coached by Garreth Ewing, had been given a temporary participation by the executive board (EB) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
South Africa and Canada will join the third edition of the league, replacing Australia and New Zealand, who pulled out of the current season due to Covid-related travel constraints.
“It’s great that both South Africa and Canada are joining the FIH Hockey Pro League. Both teams are the first ones from Africa and North America to join the Men’s League, which is excellent for the growth and globalisation of hockey,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil commented.
South Africa will host the Netherlands, India, Canada and Germany at the University of North West in Potchefstroom, with their first match in the Hockey Pro League set against the Netherlands on 8 February 2022.
At this year’s Tokyo Olympics, the SA men’s side had a disappointing start, losing their first three Group games but then turned their campaign around in their final two group games.
Ewing’s side stunned Germany with a 4-3 win and then drew Canada 4-4 as they finished second-last in their Group and failed to qualify for the semi-final in Tokyo.
The SA Hockey Association also confirmed that the Women’s Junior World Cup, which was initially scheduled for this month, but had to be postponed due to the Omnicron variant.
“The EB also expressed thanks to the organisers – both the South African Hockey Association and the North-West University of Potchefstroom – for their intense preparations,” read their statement.
South Africa’s FIH Hockey Pro League fixtures so far:
8 February – SA v Netherlands
9 February – SA v India
12 February – SA v Netherlands
13 February – SA v India
15 February – SA v Canada
17 February – SA v Germany
20 February – SA v Canada
21 February – SA v Canada
23 April – Argentina v SA
24 April – Argentina v SA
28 April – England v SA
29 April – England v SA
4 June – Spain v SA
5 June – Spain v SA
7 June – Belgium v SA
8 June – Belgium v SA