By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
THERE will be a lot of Shibobos and Tsamayas when the annual Metropolitan Under-19 Premier Cup celebrates its 25th year this year.
As usual, the tournament takes place at the ERICA Park, Belhar in Cape Town and according to the organisers, this year it is expected to attract more than 30 000 as part of celebrations.
This tournament, arguably one of well organised youth event in the country kicks-off on March 27 with the final match taking place on April 1 (April’s Fool Day or Easter Monday, depending on how you want to describe the day) and will see 32 clubs from the country and beyond our borders competing for the honours.
The competition which was initially inaugurated back in 1988 by the local club, Bayhill FC with only 16 clubs participating over two days, and it has since tremendously grown over the years with the number of clubs having been increased to 32 and is being played over almost a week.
From that humbly beginning back then, now 25 years down the memory lanes, the event has become the most prestigious tournament for both amateur and professional clubs on a national scale which include among top clubs such as Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United.
Tournament direction, PJ Williams is proud of the event which he praised to have played its part as far as contribution to the country’s football is concerned.
“This tournament has produced some of the country’s well profiled players such as Benni McCarthy, Thulani Serero, Siyanda Xulu, Ayanda Patosi and FIFA World Cup’s top referee, Jarome Damon to mention just few who went on to rise through the ranks to international stardom. It is thanks to Metropolitan’s long term support and their vision of development through youth football that more and more players, referees and officials are embarking on football as a career,” said the gentle Williams.
Metropolitan Retain Chief Executive, Phillip Matlakala has since congratulated the tournament’s organising committee on their 25th anniversary milestone.
“We are extremely pleased to have supported the Premier Cup for so many years. It is incredibly gratifying to see our country’s youth reach their full potential through soccer, but also to see how the local community has benefitted through our skills development, small business and life skills programmes. To the hundreds of volunteers who assisted behind the scenes, we pay tribute to all those who work so enthusiastically to make this event such as a huge success,” pointed out Matlakala.
To emphasise the importance of the 25th anniversary, organisers have included a Legend game which will be played as a curtain raiser on the final day. A few well known ex-professionals who participated in this competition down the years will be turning back to the clock as they look to entertain the fans in Belhar.
Another addition to this year’s plans is the 25 year celebratory competition which will see two lucky winners being afforded an opportunity to attend the FA Cup final match in London later this year.
Keep logged in on www.sports-focus.co.za for more information and the fixtures as we move closer to the tournament day.