South Africa has withdrawn its men’s and women’s hockey teams from the ongoing 13th African Games in Accra, following International Hockey Federation guidelines.

Team SA has decided to cancel the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Pitch competition due to insufficient preparation to stage the competition, which has been communicated to the Local Organising Committee and the African Hockey Federation.

According to South Africa’s Olympic governing body, SASOC, “Despite repeated assurances that the pitches would be ready for international standard competition, the pitches are unsuitable.”
Further, a statement from the organization issued on Monday 18, 2024 says it has communicated its reasons for leaving Ghana to the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).

“In correspondence sent to the LOC, Team SA team leader Ms. Patience Shikwambana indicates: “Over and above making this decision, our SA Hockey Federation consulted with Sports Flooring Warehouse, a South African-based specialist in carpet laying, and an FIH recognized service provider. They have also advised us having analyzed the images we shared with them that the field is not satisfactory and may cause harm to the athletes.”

Ms. Shikwambana noted “The rescheduling of the hockey competition, on three numerous occasions, has, in addition, caused an inconvenience to us logistically, as a team, where we had to arrange for both the teams to fly to Ghana in time for the commencement of the competition.

“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 the 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, has 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.’

South Africa has already qualified both men’s and women’s hockey teams for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and with the African Games being held in close proximity to Paris, it was deemed a potential injury risk if Team SA competed under the circumstances in Accra.

South Africa’s hockey teams have already qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics. And with the African Games being held in close proximity to Paris, it was considered risky for Team SA to compete in Accra due to potential injuries.

Source: Ghana/ Kobby Quarshie