World-class inline hockey at Africa Cup in SwakopThe interest and skills that players displayed at this year's African Cup Inline Hockey Tournament in Swakopmund bode well for the development of the sport nationally and across Africa.
About 220 players from 13 nationalities participated in nine divisions, from the under-6 debutants to the international alliance professionals, who took part in the event staged at the MTC Dome for the whole of last week.
The Namibian national teams (senior men, junior men, and women) participated along with international teams, PGKA Alliance, PAMA Golden Knights, Swiss Alliance, and Ninja Hockey Shop.
The tournament concluded on Saturday night with the pro-division, in which the international alliance, PAMA Golden Knights, beat the Namibian senior men's team 8-3.
Dave Hammond, the tournament organiser and also the captain of the PAMA Golden Knights, told Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) that it was a really good game with about 1 000 spectators.
"We fed off that energy, and then it was a good first period that went back and forth. In the end, we took over the whole game. It was really good stuff, and it was an honour to play with the others - especially with so many youngsters," he said.
According to Hammond, the interest and skill levels of the youngsters show that there is a great future for inline hockey in Namibia and Africa.
"It was cool to see the kids interacting with the pros and seeing the older guys being role models. It was really special," he said.
Some of the big names included Kevin Mooney (USA), Bjorn Bombis (Germany), Eric Baldwin (USA), Silvan Brunner (Switzerland), and Louie Newell (Britain).
Besides the turnout and the world-class hockey, some highlights of the tournament included seeing the u/6 teams play - the first time for this division at the tournament.
There were no losers after their match, only winners, and all the players got gold and shared the division trophy.
The under-14 division was also "incredible", with the final going double over time.
Hammond said that Namibian players did well, and showed their level of training and preparedness, especially in the u/18s and u/22s, while the Namibian senior men's team also made it to the pro final.
"Namibia's programme has been very strong, and we are seeing key standout players who have an opportunity to play overseas professionally. It is always good when they come back because it just uplifts the whole level of play," explained Hammond.
He said the future of the sport is "very bright" considering the debut of the u/6 division.
"If we can get people playing at this young age, it’s really special," he said.
He added that Namibia is now also seeing the second generation of players, with the veterans starting families, who have also begun to play.
As for the development of the sport in Africa, events such as the African Cup showcase the sport.
"If the people can witness it, they will maybe want to start trying it, and maybe they fall in love with it and that is how we develop it," he said.
In fact, there are talks that the Africa Cup might next be hosted in other African countries, such as Egypt and Zimbabwe, as well as South Africa.
u/6 (1st - Go2Namibia and Heja Game Lodge)
u/10 (1st - Demushuwa Property Developers and 2nd - GH Sports)
u/14 (1st - Marsblade and 2nd - Bauer)
u/18 (1st - Namibia Red and 2nd - Swiss Alliance)
u/22 (1st - Namibia Blue and 2nd - Namibia Red)
30 (1st - PGKA Alliance and 2nd - Dragons)
Adult Silver (1st - Ninja Hockey and 2nd - Dragons)
Pros (1st - PAMA Golden Knights and 2nd Senior Men's)
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