Over a thousand of the best Masters hockey players from around the country, as well as teams from Zimbabwe, Ghana and Namibia, start flocking into East London today ahead of a long weekend of the South African Masters hockey tournament.
“It has been a lot of hard work – to host a thousand players is no easy task. But we have a fantastic organising committee and we’re ready,” said Border Masters Chairman Lance Cassoojee.
“Teams will be pouring into East London [today] and we are expecting a very festive atmosphere.”
With 66 teams across the men’s and women’s divisions of the competition taking part at five venues in the city, a total of 330 matches will be battled out over the three days.
“Playing five games over three days is quite taxing for some of the old bodies, but the players are all looking forward to it,” enthused Cassoojee.
On the men’s front divisions A to G will be thrashed out, while the women will be playing in divisions A to D.
The A divisions are very competitive and some really good players are involved, but the lower divisions are more about just having a good time and enjoying the sport.
“It is really a fun tournament and there is always a great vibe amongst the players,” said Cassoojee.
“We have players up to the age of 70 taking part, so it is really amazing when you see people that age still with such a passion to play the game.”
“Many of us are friends and although things are competitive on the field, once we are off it we are all mates.”
Four teams the Border will be fielded in the tournament, and the Border women’s A will be playing as defending champions.
All the teams will want to do well, especially in front of what should be a vocal home support.
“I think all our teams will do very well,” said Cassoojee.
“Our main women’s team are really good and have a great chance to retain their title.
“The women’s B side are also good and they should do very well.”
“I think that the Border’s men’s side, which I am playing in, will also do well and I think we can get some good results over the tournament.”
In all it is set to be a busy four days from today and this should bring a good atmosphere to East London.
Also, with the players staying in the city until Tuesday, it is a boost to the city and will leave an impact across the board.
“Having a tournament of this magnitude is good for East London as it brings in some great revenue while it also showcases us as a desirable sporting location,” said Cassoojee.
“I think we are in for a very successful Masters Tournament.”