THANDO CELE

The colloquial student terms of “lekker tye” (good times), “a sick jol” and “incredible gees” (incredible spirit) are but a few that describe what Summer League hockey is all about, and the annual event was no different this year. There’s no doubt that this hockey tournament gains more popularity with each passing year as it has attracted its largest and most diverse audience since its inception in 2010. The tournament is not just about hockey, it’s also about having a jolly good time with friends and peers.

Summer League is a seven-a-side hockey tournament held during the Pretoria Hockey League’s off-season around mid-September at the TuksHockey astro turf. Teams comprised of a combination of ladies and men, and at least three ladies had to be on the field at any given time. The standard is usually a combination of three ladies and four men. The tournament is structured as a league that takes place during the course of approximately a month, using standard indoor hockey rules with rolling substitutions and a 15 minute time limit per game.

This year’s tournament, which took place from 22 September to 2 October, adopted the structure of “Group and Knockout” played over two weeks to create a spectacle-type atmosphere with more exciting and decisive outcomes. In this structure teams were split into various pools at random and the winner of each pool advanced to the Cup play-offs where they battled it out for the title of Summer League champions.

The participants consisted of Tuks students, including many residence students and TuksHockey members, students from surrounding universities, high school pupils, provincial players and adults, including some ex-national players. Flamboyant team names and cultures as well as team costumes added comedy to the league. Team names included The Skhothanes, The Tenacious Turtles, Ball (& stick) So Hard, and Abusement Park.

A number of teams took the tournament very seriously and were in it to win it, but the majority of the players hadn’t ever held a hockey stick in their lives and their unorthodox style of play brought a different dimension to Summer League. For TuksRes students it was merely another opportunity to get to know their new Rag partners.

Summer League 2014 demonstrated the value of all the teams by having every single team play a play-off game on the last day of the tournament, regardless of not finishing top of a pool and competing for the main Cup. This allowed everyone to recieve good value for money and made the most of the two weeks of participation.

Ross Gonsalves, a Tuks first team and South Africa u/21 hockey player who was part of a team consisting of his friends, described this year’s Summer League as the best one so far. Gonsalves said, “It’s all about having a jol with mates, having a few beers and enjoying the vibes. It’s nice to be able to just play without any real and serious motive because at the end of the day hockey is the real winner here.”

The Sonop and Erika hockey team. Image provided.

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