By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
THE SA Football Association (SAFA) has promised that they will speedily solve the legal matters involving their Vodacom League clubs ahead of the national Play-offs scheduled for Cape Town.
The association find itself in a situation where its DC and Appeal board has to deal with a number of cases affecting five provinces which could derail the planned play-offs due in three weeks time.
Speaking at the draw this morning, SAFA’s chairperson of Competitions Committee, Sam Masitenyane was positive that they have a capable legal team which will make sure that everything is normal before the kick-off on June 6.
“It is a fact that our legal team has not done enough as far as solving these cases in time because they were not properly facilitated, but that is history now,” said Masitenyane who confirmed that they have put in place a pilot project to make sure that things are run smoothly.
He added that: “Among other things within the pilot project will also include the appointment of retired referees as match inspectors in our matches throughout the country.”
He added: “The Vodacom League is an integral component in the structure of football in our country. The lower leagues play a very important role in establishing a solid foundation upon which success can be built. Our partnership with Vodacom is an expression of this shared ideal, which is to take South African football forward.”
To emphasise to SAFA and Vodacom’s joint development strategy, Masitenyane said young players enjoy unprecedented opportunities in the Vodacom League, where teams are required to field a minimum of five players under the age of 23 at any given time in a match.
Back to the draw, the Nedbank Cup semi-finalists, Baroka FC will start their dream promotion campaign when they take on Gauteng’s Highlands Park in the opening match of the Inland Stream with their other Group opponents, the still to be confirmed North West representative taking on Sivutsa FC of Mpumalanga.
In the Coastal Stream two clubs which are still to be confirmed from Northern Cape and Free State take each other while another club still to be confirmed from Eastern Cape will play Durban Stars of KwaZulu-Natal with the hosts, Chipas FC having put on a stand-by.
SAFA’s Director of Competitions, Steve Pila, explained the tournament structure: “The teams in each group will play each other in a round robin format, scoring three points for a win, one for a draw and none for a defeat. The winners of each group will secure automatic promotion to the NFD before facing each other in a ‘final’ for the 2011 Vodacom League championship.”
In keeping with Vodacom’s brand metamorphosis, with the adoption of a new corporate identity, the Vodacom League will be represented by a new logo, incorporating Vodacom’s new emblem set against a dazzling red background that says ‘Power To You’.
The importance of the Vodacom League continues to increase season by season. Baroka FC brought respect and recognition to both the league and their home province, Limpopo, following their tremendous cup run this season. They have highlighted the competitive strength of the division that has seen clubs such as Platinum Stars (then Silver Stars) and Vasco Da Gama rise all the way to PSL level to dine at South African football’s main table.
Furthermore, The Vodacom League has enjoyed a healthy representation within the South African development team; Sandile Kunene, Sandile Luping, Kevin Nkosi, Katlego Mashego, Sphiwe Mabena, Asaf Rantho, Nhlakanipho Mkhwanazi, Aphiwe Mlalandle, Minenhle Mthimkhulu, Sakhile Khubeka and Mlungisi Nkosi have all competed in the African Nations Championship for the locally based national team.
“Excitement is mounting as the time draws closer to the showdown the teams have been working towards all season long. The presence of Baroka FC, whose cup exploits have garnered nationwide attention, is an added drawcard for what promises to be a tightly contested series that embodies the passionate spirit of the Vodacom League,” said Enzo Scarcella, Managing Executive for Marketing at Vodacom.
In the lead-up to the play-offs, a number of Road Shows will be held around the Cape Flats to stir up the sense of anticipation for some scintillating football. Live entertainment provided by DJs and MCs is guaranteed to get fans in the mood, plus they also stand the chance of scooping some awesome prizes and giveaways. On Thursday 1 June, people can party beside the Vodacom Gig Rig at the Samora Spar, next to the Philippi Stadium between midday and 17h00. The Road Show moves on to the Gugulethu Mall on Friday 2 June, running from 1-6pm. The Philippi Shoprite, on the corner of Eisleben Street and Lansdowne Road, is the venue for the Road Show on Saturday 3 June, between midday and 5pm. On Sunday 4 June, the Gig Rig ends its tour of the region, stopping in at the Airport Mall, next to Erica Park in Belhar, from 11am-3pm.
The rewards at stake promise to provide fans with thrills and spills aplenty, as the teams put everything on the line to become Vodacom League champions.