THE excitement was palpable inside SAFA House as officials, club representatives and media convened to witness the draw for the 2012 Vodacom League Play-Offs, which takes place in Polokwane from 2-8 July 2012.
The tournament, featuring the winners of each of the nine provincial divisions, will be divided into two groups: The four-team Coastal Stream consist of Western Cape (Milano United), Eastern Cape (Tornado FC), Northern Cape (Morester Jeug) and Kwazulu-Natal (Maritzburg City FC).
The five-team Inland Stream consists of Gauteng (The Vardos FC), North West (Soshanguve Sunshine), Free State (Maluti FET College FC/Roses United FC), Mpumalanga (Batau FC) and Limpopo (Baroka FC).
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 National First Division before facing each other in a ‘final’ to determine the champions of the 2012 Vodacom League.
Matches are scheduled to take place at the Peter Mokaba Sports Complex and at the Seshego Stadium.
“The Vodacom League fulfils an integral role in the development process of football in South Africa. It lays a strong foundation for young players to gain guaranteed experience at senior level alongside more seasoned campaigners,” said SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani.
The Vodacom League contains a special regulation that requires each team to field a minimum of five players under the age of 23 at any time during a match.
Vodacom’s marketing executive manager, Enzo Scarcella said “The experience accumulated from exposure to the Vodacom League has proved invaluable, as can most recently be evidenced by 2011 champions, Chippa United, who are knocking on the door to the PSL after only one season in the National First Division (NFD).”
“The regular attendance of a vast array of scouts from top clubs clearly indicates the important role this league plays in the development process. Indeed, a significant number of the PSL’s greatest stars paid their dues in the Vodacom League, with some even graduating to perform on the international stage,” said Scarcella.
Vodacom will be staging a series of Road Shows in the lead-up to the play-offs, kicking off on Thursday 28 June at Lebowakgomo Unit F Plaza , where fans can gather between 11h00 and 17h00 to be entertained by DJs and MCs, as well as stand the chance of winning fabulous prizes.
In addition, a selection of Vodacom products and services will be on promotion to members of the public. Football lovers and Vodacom customers can enjoy the advantages of a number of outstanding offers from Vodacom that include M-pesa, a simple to use facility that enables the customer to transfer money via cellphone, without having to operate a bank account.
Also, with Vodacom Airtime Advance users are able to get R10 airtime immediately and only have to pay for it the next time they recharge with an extra R1 service fee. Vodacom4Less benefits prepaid or top-up customers by giving them up to 100% of calls within the Vodacom network for free and qualifies them for discounts on calls from the Vodacom network to other networks depending on the time of day and location of customers.
The Vodacom Gig Rig then moves to Polokwane CBD Metropolitan (Shoprite) Centre for the second road show on Friday, 29 June, followed by the final road show at Seshego Zone 1 Shopping Centre on Saturday, 30 June.
“As part of an overall modification to Vodacom’s focus and strategy, this will be the last season that Vodacom sponsors. However, in accordance with our byline , ‘Power to You’, we are primed and ready to stage a memorable occasion that will bring fans closer to their passion than ever before. Entry is free and we encourage as the people of Polokwane to show up in their numbers. You won’t be disappointed, there are some great prizes to be won.
“I would like to thank SAFA for their co-operation and assistance over the course of our partnership. I believe SAFA is fully capable of running this league to the same high standards as before Vodacom were on board, and will continue to do so in the future,” said Scarcella.
Nematandani replied: “We deeply appreciate Vodacom’s contribution to football in general over the years, but particularly to this important level of the game. Vodacom’s professionalism and expertise has provided SAFA with an excellent template, which will form the basis of our vision for the future success of this event.”
The play-offs promise to provide fans with a week of thrilling excitement, as the teams strain every muscle to ensure that an entire season’s toil ends in glory rather than disgrace. Entry to the grounds is free throughout.