The Harare Hockey League is struggling to flourish into a fully fledged professional league due to lack of proper facilities and funding.
The league includes 17 men’s and 11 women’s teams. Harare Hockey Board’s marketing manager and fixtures secretary Tapiwa Mafi explained, “Our league is as professional as the circumstances allow.” Players in the sport are unpaid and mostly have day jobs elsewhere. “Our approach is however professional as opposed to social,” said Mafi.
Sponsorship has been hard to come by. “Companies namely Dharwizi and Mark Manolios Sports have carried us through, but we are yet to find an ultimate league sponsor,” said Mafi. He explained that they are hoping to land sponsorship in time for the field season which starts in June.
“Though hockey is a sport enjoyed by many, its growth has been stifled by the delay in refurbishing the Magamba stadia so there are limited venues to play the sport,” said Mafi. Indoor hockey is only played at Sunrise Sports Club while field hockey is played at Arundel School. “This has strained the rate at which the sport can fully rejuvenate back to its previous stature in the late 90s,” he said.
Mafi said sports clubs are reluctant to maintain, let alone refurbish, their hockey fields, and that globally the sport has progressed to the artificial astro-turf surface that requires a somewhat different skills set. “We are therefore limited in Harare as we only have access to one such facility which was established at Arundel School in 2011,” he said.
Mafi invited the government and private sector to invest in the rejuvenation of hockey so as to move it towards world standards. “We need to rally behind hockey as much as we take interest in other sports like soccer or cricket so as to offer our talented youth a chance to explore their gifts,” he said.
Meanwhile, the indoor league ended on a high note with the Eradicators winning the men’s league while the women’s league was won by Harmony Rainbow. Field season starts on the first weekend of June at Arundel .
Teams interested in registering for both indoors and field hockey can contact [email protected] or call Mafi on 0774 205 151.
Photo: Harare Province Mens Team from 2013 who won the Mens Field IPT hosted at Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo beating Matabeleland and Masvingo Province.