Sunday, December 4, 2011

No pain, just gain for Spain..

With South Africa's defeat in the Semi-Final of the Champions Challenge against India, they have failed to meet SASCOC's criteria for automatic qualification to the Olympic Games. Like the women's team they give up their automatic qualification berth from winning the Africa Cup and must now go through the Olympic Qualifier process to qualify. This means that Spain as the highest ranked nation not already qualified will take up South Africa's automatic qualification berth.
SASCOC have determined that despite the FIH and the IOC recognising the Africa Cup as an official qualification route to the Olympic Games, they do not feel the tournament is of high enough a standard to be regarded as a true Qualifier. They set the Men's and Women's team the additional goal of reaching the final of a World Level event, the Champions Challenge, for SASCOC to send them to the Olympic Games. THe Women lost their Quarter-final to Spain on a Golden Goal and the Men have lost their Semi-final to India meaning neither team reached the objective.
The South African Hockey Association realising there was one more World Level event before the Olympics, the Olympic Qualifiers, proposed that South Africa give up their automatic berth and go through the Olympic Qualifying process. This proposal was accepted by the FIH and the IOC and finally by SASCOC.
SASCOC's stance has angered the African Hockey Federation who feel it degrades hockey throughout the continent and have been heard to mutter they will not invite South Africa to any further African events. If this does happen, SASCOC, instead of carrying out their mandate to promote sport in South Africa will effectively banish hockey into the wilderness.