THIS year’s Nafa Easter Soccer tournament, which kicks off at the Gelvandale Stadium tomorrow, will be bigger and better than ever.
That was the word from the organisers, with General Motors (GMSA) returning as the title sponsor after an absence of almost 20 years when the company was known as Delta.
The gala opening tomorrow evening will showcase the 1200 juniors and 480 seniors in a parade led by the legendary St George’s Band. This will be followed by live performances from award-winning R&B outfits Genesix and Chapter 3.
The opening performances will also include a dance showcase by BAMA award-winning freestyle dancer Angel and the Vandelyders dance academy.
The guest appearance on the night features well-known actor Maurice Page (Calvin from Isidingo) in a performance that promises to rock your world.
This will be followed by a laser-themed showcase and the ever-popular fireworks display.
Twenty-four teams from as far afield as Klerksdorp will battle it out for cash, trophies and medals valued at more than R30000 in the annual tournament.
Now in its 41st year, the event is one of the largest amateur tournaments on the South Africa soccer calendar, with the 24 senior teams and 40 junior teams participating over the weekend, which includes coaching clinics and life skills workshops.
“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”, GMSA corporate communications manager Gishma Johnson said. “Participation in sports is one way to instil discipline in the youth and take their focus off the drugs and gangsterism prevalent on the streets of the northern areas.”
Help Our Children Play is the brainchild of a group of Bay entrepreneurs launching the campaign in response to the social problems of crime, gangsterism, drugs, alcoholism and child abuse, with a particular focus on Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, which have been plagued by a rise in drug- and gang-related incidents.
The organisation will use the Easter Soccer Tournament, an annual highlight on the northern areas sporting and social calendar, as a high-profile platform to kick off the campaign, which aims to raise funds to reduce the costs of soccer participation for underprivileged youngsters from the area.
Help Our Children Play chief executive Ashton Prince said the project was a “call-to-action campaign” to encourage members of the community and business owners to help children fight social ills.
“The current 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.”
Twenty-four teams have been drawn into six groups, with a visiting team in each, and will play a round-robin before the knockout stage.
The semifinals and finals of the tournament will be played at the Gelvandale Stadium on Monday.
Group A: Ashford Athletic (CT), Helenvale, West Lake, Stardrift.
Group B: Klerksdorp, Fairview Rovers, Blackpool, Fairdene.
Group C: Cape Town Pirates, Windvogel All Stars, Bloom Callies, Chatty United.
Group D: Atlantic Spurs (EL), Park United, Warriors, Swallows.
Group E: Junction Rovers (CT), Wolves, Pirates (PE), NMMU Madibaz. Group F: Pride of India (EL), Shamrocks, Glenville, Booysens Pride.
The tournament starts with under-10 matches from 10am at the Gelvandale Stadium.
Seniors will be in action from 1.30pm.
Stadium: 9pm; Pride of India v Glenville, Gelvan 1: 1.30pm; Windvogel All Stars v Chatty United, 2.40pm; Park United v Swallows, 3.50pm; Atlantic Spurs v Warriors. Gelvan 2: 2.30pm; Wolves v NMMU Madibaz, 3.40pm; Junction Rovers v Pirates. Gelvan 3: 2.30pm; Shamrocks v Booysens Pride, 3.40pm; Lads v Bloom Callies.
Stadium: 11.30am; Atlantic Spurs v Swallows, 12.40pm; Warriors v Park United, 1.50pm; Junction Rovers v NMMU Madibaz, 3.30pm; Pirates v Wolves, 4.40pm; Pride of India v Booysens Pride, 5.50pm; Glenville v Shamrocks. Gelvan 1: 1.50pm; Klerksdorp v Fairdene, 3pm; Blackpool v Fairview Rovers. Gelvan 2: 1.50pm; Lads v Chatty United, 3pm; Bloom Callies v Windvogel All Stars. Gelvan 3: 1.30pm; Ashford Athletic v Stardrift, 3pm; West Lake v Helenvale. – Mogan Segadavan