The three-day 11th edition of the Victoria Park Soccer Challenge has attracted 34 high school teams from all corners of Nelson Mandela Bay, East London and Bloemfontein.
The teams will compete in various divisions of the tournament such as boys under-16 and U19 and girls open (U19). The winners will receive a floating trophy and gold medals while the runners-up will receive silver medals and the teams that come third will get bronze medals.
The girls’ teams are divided into two groups, while the U16 boys’ teams are divided into two groups and the U19 boys’ teams are divided into four groups. The groups consist of four teams each and will clash for 40 minutes (20 minutes a half).
Powerade is the sponsor of the event and the tournament will be played on a round-robin basis.
Tournament director Thobela Thoba said the soccer challenge was originally started as a pre-season event for teams in the western suburbs and surrounding areas.
“The tournament grew bigger, with teams from outside the region and the province wanting to be involved and the sponsors were also interested on sponsoring the event.
“After the tournament wasgaining popularity, we decided to involve strictly high school teams. This was in order to develop football at high school level.”
Thoba said the tournament also aimed at promoting women’s football and a healthy lifestyle at schools.
South African Schools Football Association regional president Simphiwe Mkhangelwa praised the school for bringing together young people from all over the metro and building friendships through sport.
“The tournament serves as a networking platform that exposes the former Model C school, who are actively involved in football, to the schools’ football governing body.
“We really support the initiative because it also allows schools to showcase their talented football players.”
Victoria Park boys senior team captain Lonwabo Balfour said the school’s U19 soccer team was ready and prepared for the challenge.
“We are determined to win the tournament as the hosts.
“We have a duty to represent our school with pride and dignity.”
The finals of the tournament will be played on Saturday. – Mthetho Ndoni