Huge sigh of relief: Hockey people happy game is back - Beaking Kenya News

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Saturday, 20 February 2021

Huge sigh of relief: Hockey people happy game is back

 

“It was long overdue.”


Those were the words of Strathmore University coach Meshack Senge as the Kenya Hockey Union announced on Friday the start of the new Premier League season on April 3.


The union cancelled the league last season owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Senge said they have been in the cold for long and he was glad players will be back to doing what they love most.


“Other sports had rolled out there activities and it was about time that hockey followed suit. That said, it will be upon the teams, institutions and players at large to observe health protocols put out by the government for the well being of the sport,” said Senge.


“We have not started training but now that the letter is here with us, we will assemble the team. Thankfully, some players have been away training with the national teams and therefore it won't take long for the playing system to fall in place ,” the former Kenya men's coach said.


Kenya men’s and women's teams had been training for the North-East Africa Qualifiers that was scheduled for March 1-7 in Nairobi but ended up being cancelled.


The national junior sides are training for the Junior Africa Cup on March 22 to 28 in Accra, Ghana.


Following the cancellation of the qualifiers, Kenya and Uganda were awarded the two slots to feature in the Cup of Nations scheduled for later this year. The two were the  only countries that had confirmed participation with Africa Hockey Federation early this month.


Women's Premier League champions Blazers, formerly Telkom, coach Jos Openda welcomed the development and was quick to note that they will be out to pick up from where they left.


Openda decried the lack of sponsorship after their title sponsors Telkom pulled out in 2019.


“I think the lack of sponsors have made most of my players to be strong mentally. We are keen to defend the title not as Telkom but as the new outfit, Blazers. We are reaching out to sponsors out there to invest in this squad that is still eager to put our country on the world map,” said Openda.


Men's champion Butali Sugar Warriors team manager Kamal Sembi, while welcoming the resumption of the sport, said they will have to get the green light from their sponsor Butali on the way forward.


“With Covid-19, things have been hard with companies and really, I can't comment on the league if we will be participating or not. We will have to get the communication from the management. Again, a lot will have to be involved prior to the league kick off - as far as health protocols are concerned and the team managers meeting to be held soon will put things in perspective,” said the official.


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