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Hockey News of Friday, 20 April 2007

Source: Ghana Hockey Association

2007 All Africa Games - Hockey to be Played Simultaneously in Nairobi

A story compiled by Michael Quaye on page 47 of the Daily Graphic of Thursday April 19 2007 suggests that Hockey will not be included in the number of sports being competed for at the 2007 All Africa Game because of inadequate entries from countries. This is however not the case. Hockey is and has always been an important sport in All Africa Games, especially when it serves as a qualifier for the Olympic Games. During the Abuja Games, it served as a qualifier for the Athens Olympics and this year, it was due to serve as a qualifier for the Beijing Olympics.

The background is as follows: During the bidding for the Games, World Hockey through the African Hockey Federation impressed upon all bidding countries that hockey would be one of the sporting disciplines that would be included in the games and that facilities should be made available to ensure this. All countries indicated their preparedness to comply.

When Algeria won the bid, they initially assured the President of African Hockey that they would construct the facilities to ensure the competitions are held during the Games. In a later development, the Local Organizing Committee informed the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa and the African Hockey Federation of their inability to construct the facility to host the hockey competition since Algeria was not a hockey playing nation, did not have a Hockey Association and would not utilise the facility after the Games.

In view of the importance of the competition as an Olympic qualifier, the International Olympic Committee and World Hockey, in consultation with the African Hockey Federation re-located the venue of the competitions, maintaining the same dates with the All Africa Games and duly informed all countries. Kenya was selected and preparations are advanced for Nairobi to host the hockey competition of the All Africa Games during the same period. World Hockey, the African Hockey Federation and the Kenyan Hockey Union have commenced the deployment of equipment and logistics for the hosting of the competitions. The winners of this event will automatically qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games while the second placed team will qualify for the next round of World Olympic Qualifiers. Subject to World Ranking, the third placed team may also qualify.

Meanwhile, Ghana like other hockey playing nations has commenced the preparation of their national teams for the event. As part of the preparations, Ghana hosted Nigeria in a two match series to coincide with the 50th Anniversary celebrations which Ghana won by 1-0 margin on both occasions. The GHA has also benefited from a novelty World Hockey Coaching Assistance programme put in place to complement the efforts of selected nations with a high potential to qualify for the Olympic Games. The men and women’s national teams are currently undergoing non-residential camping and will go into residential camping a few weeks to the competition. Plans are also being pursued by the National Sports Council and the GHA with the assistance of the FIH Member of Honour and the FIH coach to get the teams to undertake a training tour of the Netherlands ahead of the competition.

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