African Games 2023: ‘We are here to play; not to find excuses not to play’ – African Hockey Chief

The African Hockey Federation is unhappy about South Africa’s decision to withdraw their male and female teams from the ongoing African Games, Accra 2023. At a press briefing in Accra on Tuesday, Seif Ahmed, President of the African Hockey Federation said “We came to play. Not to find excuses not to play.”

South Africa pulled their teams out of the competition, citing safety concerns with the pitch.

“I believe hockey in Africa will benefit greatly from this pitch. There are 25 countries playing hockey in Africa. Only one country, South Africa has certified turfs.

“Of course, if we take over the turf late we cannot certify it. But, from our experience, we know it is safe to be used.”

The continental President intimated that South Africa did not follow due process in deciding to withdraw from the competition. He added that the claim that the pitch was substandard was untenable as the turf had not been laid at the time that the pictures being peddled by the South Africans were taken and also, as the quality of the turf could not be ascertained from the pictures taken.

Mr. Seif further stated that the mandatory requirement for certification only arises where a pitch is to be used for Olympic qualifiers.

“What we have heard is that the real reason South Africa pulled out of the competition is because they are afraid of injuries, as they are preparing for the Olympic Games. We are here to protect the athletes, but we have no control over injuries.”

South Africa’s male and female teams qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games after competing on the old turf at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Pitch in Accra in the African Cup of Nations, in 2022.

The newly installed surface at the Pitch is of the highest quality and is the same surface to be used at the upcoming Paris Olympics. With the exception of hockey, South Africa is competing in seventeen (17) other disciplines at Accra 2023 with a contingent of three hundred and forty-six (346).

With over 5,000 athletes from 54 countries participating, the Games is featuring twenty-nine (29) different sporting disciplines across two cities – Accra and Cape Coast.

Source: | March 19, 2024