Championship eagerly anticipated

2018-07-11 06:01
At the launch of the SAB League u.21 National Championships, held at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban from 17 to 22 July are, from the left Neil Tovey (technical director of Safa), Dennis Mumble (chief executive officer of Safa), Khehla Kubayi (SAB League study assistance recipient), Rhulani Mokwena (Orlando Pirates assistant coach and SAB League graduate), Kwenzekwakhe Ngwenya (national executive committee member and KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of Safa), Siphesihle Ndlovu (Maritzburg United and SAB League graduate) and Peter Thembane (SAB corporate affairs manager in the East Coach Region).Photo: Supplied

At the launch of the SAB League u.21 National Championships, held at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban from 17 to 22 July are, from the left Neil Tovey (technical director of Safa), Dennis Mumble (chief executive officer of Safa), Khehla Kubayi (SAB League study assistance recipient), Rhulani Mokwena (Orlando Pirates assistant coach and SAB League graduate), Kwenzekwakhe Ngwenya (national executive committee member and KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of Safa), Siphesihle Ndlovu (Maritzburg United and SAB League graduate) and Peter Thembane (SAB corporate affairs manager in the East Coach Region).Photo: Supplied

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The football community is gearing up for the SAB League u.21 National Championships which will be held at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban from Tuesday (17/07) to Sunday (22/07).

This competition pits nine provincial teams, as well as a university select side of University Sport South Africa (USSA), against each other and promises clashes displaying the finest grassroots football the country has on offer.

Having established itself as a hub for the identification of promising players in South Africa, players such as Percy Tau (2017-’18 Premier Soccer League footballer of the season) and Siphesihle Ndlovu (young player of the season) are both products of the SAB League.

In addition to playing in the SAB League for a number of years, the 21-year-old Ndlovu was part of the 2016 group of students who underwent a one-day training workshop at the SAB League Footballers 4 Life wellness and financial skills camp.

Ndlovu, who was in attendance at the launch of the national championships held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, shared the story of his journey with the SAB League and how it shaped him into the player he is.

“I can never emphasise enough just how impactful the SAB League has been in my life,” said Ndlovu.

“I consider myself fortunate to have been able to interact with the sport in a different way through the admini­stration course.

“The workshop gave me a deeper understanding of the sport from the front, as well as behind the scenes, and I applaud both SAB and Safa for giving young players like myself an opportunity to understand what takes place beyond the football pitch,” said the Maritzburg United midfielder.

Ndlovu’s words were echoed by one of South Africa’s most influential young coaches, Orlando Pirates Assistant Coach Rhulani Mokwena, who expressed his delight at football programmes which equip all stakeholders for life outside of football.

“It is impressive that the SAB League is not solely about the development of players, and develops across the football structures,” said Mokwena.

“To sit here as a coach, in a panel made up of administrators, players and match officials who have all been developed under the same programme, demonstrates just how well-structured and advanced the SAB League is.”

Kalashni Narainsamy AB-InBev’s Better World Project manager, expressed the brand’s delight at the success of the 2017-’2018 SAB League season.

“This season has proven the two-decade long effectiveness of our proud partnership with Safa.

“We held various skills camps for coaches and match officials at the beginning of the year and are now looking forward to the ongoing league fixtures culminating into the upcoming national championships,” said Narainsamy.

In the 2017 championship Gauteng beat the 2016 champion, the USSA team. It was during this season that 21-year-old Yusuf Bunting bagged a first team contract with Kaizer Chiefs, following an outstanding performance from the pacey player.

Dennis Mumble, chief executive officer of the South African Football Association (Safa), encouraged the players to use the platform to their full advantage.

“It is through the SAB League that we have future Bafana Bafana stars like Siphesihle Ndlovu, and I would like to encourage the players and coaches alike to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to their full advantage in hopes of adding competent individuals to our football structures,” said Mumble.

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