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10.10.2005 Hockey

New system for qualifying for Africa Hockey Cup of Nations

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(From: Daniel Kenu, GNA Special Correspondent, Pretoria

Courtesy: Ministry of Education and Sports

Pretoria, Oct. 10, GNA - The Africa Hockey Federation is instituting new measures to encourage regional tournaments to serve as qualifiers for subsequent Africa Hockey Cup of Nations. The new move is to discourage apathy and to increase national associations from 15 to at least 20 in the next four years. Mr Seif Ahmed, President of the African Hockey Federation, told the media in Pretoria on return from the Executive Board Meeting for Hockey Federations in Santiago, Chile, that among some of the key issues raised was apathy by most African countries particularly those in French speaking West Africa.

Currently, none of the Francophone countries in West Africa is a member of the continental body and even among the present 15-member countries, only five could make to the Cup of Nations. Mr Ahmed said a new drive targeted at West African countries and some in North Africa chiefly among them, Algeria, is to draw them into the fold. Algeria is scheduled to host the 2007 All Africa Games, which would also serve as qualifier for the Olympics Games. He said unlike most hockey nations, which lack the water-based astro turf, Algerians have quite a lot but these are used as football pitches.

"Now we have to re-package and market the Federation to bring on board such countries," Mr Ahmed said. Plans are also afoot to provide water-based astro turfs for Uganda and Kenya by next year through the support of the International Olympic Committee. These are the only ways in which we as Africans can catch up with the rest of the world," Mr Ahmed said He commended South Africa for improving the game but said the difference between the continent and the rest of the world was too wide.

"That's why we need more active hockey nations and facilities to improve the game."

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