2015-04-30 16:44

THE whole of the greater Pietermaritzburg and outlying area residents were disappointed last weekend when the Pietermaritzburg and District Soccer Association (Padsa) at Northdale Stadium could not host the annual Padsa Easter tournament this year. As a former player and a fan of this event, it was not just a blow to everybody, but a killer punch to the development of the game.

The Padsa Easter Tournament started about 45 years ago and grew in such a way that it became a must-watch family event. It also produced a lot of teams and players who ended up in professional ranks with various soccer giants around the country.

Players such as Arthur Bartman (Kaizer Chiefs, African Wanderers, Golden Arrows, Moroka Swallows), Shane Morrison (AmaZulu and SA U23, U20 and U17, Bret Evans (Ajax Cape Town and SA U20 and SAU23 and Bafana Bafana), Shaun Donnely, Mabhuti Khenyeza (Golden Arrows, Mamelodi Sundowns, Ajax Cape Town, Kaizer Chiefs and Mpumalanga Black Aces), Sandile Ndlovu (former Mamelodi Sundowns-Moroka Swallows, Siphesihle Ngobese (former AmaZulu-Golden Arrows, Enver Wiltwer (Free State Stars, Maritzburg United and Chippa United and Veronica Phewa (ex-Banyana Banyana), just to mention a few, once took part in the event, which clearly indicates that it meant a lot and obviously contributed in the building of South African soccer.

The reason for failing or for Padsa not being allowed to host such a premier soccer event in the capital city is heartbreaking and doesn’t make sense.

It is stupid that local soccer politics, a lack of passion, positions, power struggle and simply short-sighted officials played a big role in this.

The new local soccer demarcations or restructuring by Safa Mgungundlovu is unacceptable, or it is just a silly excuse.

The regional soccer governing body and the national association knew about the Easter tournament many years ago and new structures or arrangements should have accommodated Padsa’s Easter Tournament and supported it.

We all believe the regional and local structures of Safa are here to take the game to the next level, not to destroy the community projects, especially when it comes to developing the game at the grass-root level.

May I strongly warn local structures of Safa to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves because it’s going to destroy local soccer and badly divide different racial groups.

I think besides Safa or local football associations, the Mgungundlovu District Municipality, Msunduzi Municipality, the Department of Sports and Recreation and stakeholders, such as the founders, former officials and players need to hold a major soccer indaba to resolves this thorny issue.

Not only as a former Easter Tournament player, but also as a proud resident of the northern areas and a political activist, I suggest that local government structures must work their butts off to make sure the matter is resolved.

I understand the majority of northern area residents are angry and have been overlooked by taking away their annual community event

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