A TOTAL of 24 senior teams from as far as Klerksdorp will battle it out for cash, trophies and medals valued at more than R30000 in the Easter Soccer Tournament organised by the Northern Areas Football Association (Nafa).
Now in its 41st year, the tournament is one of the largest amateur events on the domestic soccer calendar, with the24 senior teams and 40 junior teams participating over the weekend.
Coaching clinics and life skills workshops will be incorporated.
General Motors returns as the title sponsor after an absence of almost 20 years when the company was know as Delta.
“GMSA has had a long association with the tournament and its sponsorship of this year’s event will go mostly towards club fees and kit for young soccer players through the Help Our Children Play sport development initiative,” company corporate communications manager Gishma Johnson said.
Help Our Children Play is the brainchild of a group of metro entrepreneurs who are launching the campaign in response to social problems of crime, gangsterism, drugs, alcoholism and child abuse, with a particular focus on Port Elizabeth’s northern areas.
The organisation will use the Easter Soccer Tournament, an annual highlight on the area’s sporting and social calendar, as a high-profile platform to kick off the campaign.
It will raise funds to reduce the costs of soccer participation for underprivileged youngsters from the area.
Nafa president Valentine Brink said the campaign would strengthen the tournament’s youth and sports development aspects, enabling it to continue beyond the tournament itself and make a lasting impact.
“The sponsorship by GMSA contributes to making sport affordable and accessible for these children, and keeping them off the streets,” Brink said.
The tournament will take place over the Easter weekend, from April 18 to 21.
Help Our Children Play chief executive Ashton Prince says the project is a “call to action campaign” to encourage members of the community and business owners to help children fight social ills.
“The average cost for a junior to participate in the game of football is R900 per season. Considering that the bulk of our community battles to feed their households, these costs are the first to be dumped,” Prince said.
“The campaign will also support life skills programmes to help our kids think beyond their circumstances.”
At the launch, the 24 senior teams were drawn into six groups, with a visiting team in each. Teams will play a round-robin before the knockout stage. – Mogan Segadavan