Poor pitch condition leads to SA hockey teams withdrawing from Africa Games in Ghana

South African hockey teams have been withdrawn from the Africa Games in Ghana due to the poor condition of the playing surface.

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) have withdrawn the country’s hockey teams from the Africa Games in Ghana citing the poor condition of the playing surface.

South African officials were not happy that the conditions of the pitch was suitable for international hockey, and were worried over the safety of the players.

South Africa’s officials had a consultation a specialist in sports surface laying, who did not feel that players would not be safe in they took part.

“They have also advised us – having analysed the images we shared with them – that the field is not satisfactory and may cause harm to the athletes,” South African team leader Patience Shikwambana said in a statement.

Shikwambana also noted that the multiple rescheduling of the hockey tournament had been a logistical inconvenience.

“In the first Chef De Missions’ site visit meeting at the end of October 2023, we were advised that there would be test events to ensure readiness of venues before the start of each competition.

“This, unfortunately, has not been the case for Hockey. In addition, according to the FIH field certification guideline, ‘If a field that is not certified is being considered as a tournament venue, it should be tested at the earliest convenience to demonstrate compliance with this specification’.

“These tests should be conducted months in advance before a competition – which, in this case, have not taken place. Furthermore, ‘The FIH has a number of accredited test institutes, and these have accredited engineers located around the world’, which we are not certain if they have been involved and provided the necessary certification.”

With both South African teams having already qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Sascoc deemed it a “a potential injury risk if Team SA competed under the circumstances in Accra“.

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