Wiseman’s Corner; 2018 SHL round one review
The first round of the 2018 Sapholda Hockey League came to an end on Saturday 24th June 2018 at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey stadium.
A total of 50 matches spread across 3000 minutes were played amongst all 4 divisions namely; Men, women, youth and masters.
With the omission of Trustees, the men’s league had six teams (Exchequers, Police, GRA, Legon Knights, Reformers and Ark Men) likewise the women’s division (GRA, Police, Reformers, Extinguishers, Ark ladies and Real Ambassadors ladies) with five teams apiece in the youth (Real Ambassadors boys, Tema Manhean, Young Financiers, Ark Boys and Kasoa Heroes) and masters divisions (Sapholda, Citizens, Multistix, Golden Sticks and NDK Financiers) totalling 22 teams.
The league has been one of the most competitive in recent years with staggering performances from all clubs including the underdogs.
The league recorded 148 goals scored with 65 of that coming from penalty corners representing 34%. The men’s league recorded the most goals scored, 63 representing 43% while the women’s league recorded the least- 13 goals representing 8%.
NB: All goals scored goals scored against Real Ambassador Ladies and Ark Ladies are non-scoring and doesn’t count in the computation.
There were 66 green cards and 70 yellow cards issued with a single red card going to Leslie Barnor of Reformers Men.
The league recorded 301 penalty corners out of which 62 were scored and 5 penalty strokes with all converted.
The performance of clubs during the previous round was on an average score.
In the men’s league, the “big teams” suffered in games against the whipping boys. Exchequers struggled in their games against Ark Men and Reformers beating them 1-0 and 2-0 respectively. GRA also had problems dealing with the above-mentioned clubs.
Legon Knights also had an improved performance after they won (for the first time in the league) against Ark Men and drew 1 all against Reformers. They, though with an improved performance, still struggled against the big clubs.
The women’s league had Extinguishers struggling without the presence of Skipper, Rachael Bamfo, and the introduction of new crop of players. In the camp of GRA and Police, the focus of scoring more goals was an important factor than anything else. The two teams ended up putting injuries on the development team which cost them as it refrains the young girls from playing. Real Ambassador Girls and Ark Ladies had an improved side even though they struggled with goals and stamina against the top 3.
The above stated can be reviewed in two ways:
- the underdog teams are gradually improving their level of play and hence increasing the competitive nature of the league, or
- the big clubs are deteriorating in the level of play and this might have a huge negative impact on the league and national team as a whole.
The youth league, though Real Ambassadors at the top, was also very competitive. All teams with the exception of Kasoa Heroes gave the defending champions something to think about. All the players and teams showed a sense of sportsmanship with a disciplined attitude throughout the Round.
Citizens International were the most improved team in the masters league and the league in general. A team that had struggled for years in the master’s division, rejuvenated themselves and came back in this round with scintillating performances beating NDK, Multistix and Golden sticks before eventually lost to Sapholda in the league’s table top decider.
Unlike previous league seasons where we had the usual players performing, the first round of this season was different.
Most of the national team players performed not up to the level expected and this might be a worry to the national teams. Nevertheless, we had great displays from some national team players as well as up and coming players across all divisions.
Police’s Abbiw Charles, Richard Adjei and Ntiamoah Alfred, GRA’s Ernest Opoku and Exchequers’ Ankomah Emmanuel, Akaba Elorm, were national team players who proved their worth.
Legon Knights’ Kobby Asante, Christian Owusu and Bernard Awuah, Ark Men’s Kenneth Quartey and Alex Tuffour and Exchequers’ Tyche Duisburg, Osmanu Mohammed and Arthur Ebenezer just to mention a few were those who should earn a national team call-up for based on their outstanding performance.
In the women’s league, Real Ambassadors Hagiet Copson and GRA’s Phillipa Seddoh aside Cecelia Amoako of Ghana Police, Elizabeth Opoku and Adizatu Sulemana of GRA who are all part of the national team impressed a lot.
Some players also exhibited some level of unprofessionalism posing threats to umpires based on decisions that didn’t go to their advantage. The act of attacking umpires is becoming a norm and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
There were question marks concerning this particular aspect of the league.
There’s been complains from some players, team managers and spectators about how umpires officiate matches. Most team managers complained of “below the average” officiating with some individuals making claims of alleged cases of match-fixing.
Some unpardonable mistakes that cost teams resulted in some umpires being attacked by players on and off the pitch. This poses a great threat to the decisions of umpires as a whole.
The general performance of the umpires was discouraging in this particular round.
The number of people who trooped to the stadium to witness matches on the average was not convincing. This is a major problem the association would have to look at if it intends to make the sport a public favourite.
The league expected to resume on 20th & 21st July 2018 for the second round. Let’s see how it turns up.