Taking the rich man’s game to the masses
THE three national hockey tournaments that have taken place in Pietermaritzburg over the past fortnight concluded yesterday.
The SA U16 and SA U18 Boys’ Interprovincial tournaments at Maritzburg College’s Pape’s Astro and the A.B. Jackson Greenfields Turf, as well as the SA Country Districts’ Interprovincial Women’s Tournament at GHS’s Greenfields Turf, saw 52 teams playing in the KZN capital.
Around 1 000 players, managers, coaches, umpires, national selectors and other officials from all over the country gathered in PMB, bringing much-needed revenue to the city’s coffers and again proving just how suited PMB is to hosting events of this nature.
As a very conservative estimate, bank on R200 per player/official per day over a period of five to six days each and you have in the region of R1 million spent in the KZN capital by players and support staff management on food, travel, accommodation and so on over the past fortnight.
And then there has been — on my and others’ observations — about half the parents plus siblings watching. That’s about 3 000 supporters spending, at an extremely conservative estimate, around R300 per day on food, travel and accommodation, and you are looking at another cool R1 million in the city’s coffers.
Two million bucks over the past 10 to 12 days is a nice cash injection into the PMB economy and shows the sort of money that can be made through attracting top hockey tournaments to the city.
Apart from the obvious benefits of getting as many players on synthetic turf pitches as possible, there is a monetary benefit that can pay for these hockey pitches over time. Sufficient, that is, to begin to cover the costs of relaying the surfaces come their sell-by date after eight to 10 years.
The perception that hockey is a rich person’s sport has value — evidenced by the myriad double cabs, Mercs and BMWs in the car parks at the three hockey venues over the past 10 to 12 days. In South Africa at least, it is an amateur sport, so players generally have to pay their own way — and with sticks retailing at R3 000 or more for some of the best — it’s not cheap.
That said, I know of no needy player who has ever been turned away due to financial constraints — hockey people always make a plan for the less fortunate. And it is this imperative to take hockey to the masses that must drive municipalities, in harness with hockey institutions, to build more of these turfs. There is no other wayto learn the modern game.
Currently there are around 80 such turfs in SA with a replacement value of approximately R400 million that cater for the 112 000 schoolchildren who play hockey, plus the 8 000 club players. Yet, the likes of Northern and Southern Cape, Limpopo, Eastern Gauteng and Mpumalanga have just one turf between them.
This has to change if hockey is to becomeagameforall the people.