Telkom Orange for World Club championships

By eric odanga
Jan 21, 2022

The real test for the winners of the just concluded Africa Club hockey championships will be during the club championships later this year in the Netherlands.

Kenya’s Telkom Orange and Egypt Police won the women’s and men’s titles in contrasting styles at the Lugogo Stadium in Kampala, Uganda. The clubs from the same country met in the final. Telkom Orange beat Strathmore University 2-0 at Egypt Police upset Sharkia 2-1 in the men’s final.

Big tournaments are supposed to create a buzz especially if they have the tag of Africa championships. In two months, Kenya and Uganda hosted two ‘big’ hockey tournaments. Firstly, Kenya hosted the Africa Nations Cup while Uganda hosted the club’s version of the tournament. In both cases, it was the same countries if not less that participated.

The nations Cup hosted by Kenya had more at stake because it was a World Cup qualifier. Also, the winners of the club championships will represent Africa at the world club championships.

Organizational hitches coupled with low entry has punctuated the tournaments under the docket African hockey body.

All Kenyan final

Kenya’s coaches in Uganda, Jos Openda (Telkom Orange) and Meshack Senge (Strathmore University) concentrated on playing at the eight-day tournament regardless of who they faced. In the end, they faced off in the final after a lukewarm build up where only six teams, two from Kenya and Uganda, one each from Ghana and Tanzania played.

Teams from the Southern part of the continent were absent.

In the men’s competition, Egyptian sides, Egypt Police and Sharkia were in a class of their own and met in the final.

A cursory glance at the championship in Nairobi brought to the fore teething problems within the Africa Hockey Federation. Ahmed Seif, the Federation’s ,president, put up a brave face saying there is hope for the sport and encouraged countries to participate.

Without financial from African governments, hockey has stagnated. In Nairobi, logistics and organisational mishaps were the second name of the tournament in Nairobi and pictorial evidence showed as much.

A blog by one of the South African players candidly pointed a way forward lamenting the lack of interaction between players and the administration. He argued the input of players was important.

Handful countries

It is impossible to realize top flight competition when only a handful of countries play the game. At the moment, two West African countries - Nigeria and Ghana - play field hockey at competitive level. In the north, Only Egypt has the game at heart.Kenya then provides the East African interest while South African teams will only compete if there is something at stake such as an Olympic or World championship qualifier.

Openda who steered Telkom Orange to their ninth title has the bulk of the national team players and early preparations made it possible to defend the title. They will need much more intense preparations for the world club championships which may require camping in Europe.

Strathmore University won the silver after finishing sixth in the last tournament and Senge is confident that it is only a matter of time before they win the title. There is however no such luxury for the men’s team who should go back to the drawing boards after the two representatives Sikh (Simba Union) and Kenya Police failed to reach the medal brackets.

But, the onus is on the Africa Hockey Federation to increase the number of teams in the tournament even if it means creating a second tier tournament for the countries who are keen to play the sport.

Final results: Sikh Union 1 Union Bank 2 (Men 7th & 8th), Trustees 2 Yobe 1 (Men 5th & 6th), Ghana Revenue Authority 7 Weatherhead 0 (Women 3rd & 4th) , Kenya Police 2 Golden Sticks 3 (Men 3rd & 4th), Telkom Orange 2 Strathmore University 1 (Women 1st & 2nd), Sharkia 1 Egypt Police 2 (Men 1st & 2nd).