THE Mates Hockey Club's 25th anniversary celebrations will coincide with its annual tournament at Nadovu grounds in Lautoka this weekend.
The Mates Club was founded in the late 1980s by Jimmy Little, Herbert Pickering, the late Claude Campbell, Tommy Levy, Isaac Johnson and Hynie Coffin.
Mates have come a long way and is the oldest surviving hockey club in the Sugar City.
This year's tournament has drawn an overwhelming response with the participation of clubs from Suva, Nadi, Ba and Lautoka.
Mates media liaison officer Ernest Coffin said this was the biggest inter-club tournament in the Western Division.
He said it would be a fun-filled affair with games for the children and entertainment programs for the pioneers of hockey in Lautoka.
"The teams in both the men's and women's divisions have been divided into two pools," the former national rep said.
"Ventures of Suva will defend the men's title and they are firm favourites being the national champions.
"Ventures are a powerful side having the likes of the Smith brothers Adrian and Hector Junior with Tevita King, Leevan Dutta and James Saqalaca. But they will face stiff competition from Marist and Stingers.
"Ventures will also defend women's title. The side will have top players like Allison Dutta, Myra Tora and Cathy Thaggard.
"However making a comeback in the tournament is Mobees. The side, along with the unknown Mates team, will give Ventures a good run in the competition.
The Mates tournament is sponsored by its fans club in partnership with Media Pacifica South Pacific Limited, David O'Conner, Rajnil Singh and the Fiji Hockey Federation.
"For the first time we have included a program whereby the organisers are giving back to the community," Ernest said.
"We will have the Lautoka Senior Citizens program which is held monthly in the Sugar City thanks to Margie Beddoes, Joe Foon, Alex O'Conner and Andrea Manueli.
"We will invite all the pioneers of the sport in Lautoka to come and sing along with the band on Saturday from 3pm"
The tournament will start at 8am tomorrow with the registrations of teams.