THE partnership between the South African Football Association in Mangaung and sponsor Interstate Bus Lines has laid a solid foundation for beckoning future football greats for the big leagues. The partnership has seen no less than 6 300 young players registered with 210 teams at grassroots level, showcasing their talents and unearthing talented stars from the dusty pitches. The teams are campaigning in the IBL/Safa Mangaung Promotion League development leagues – u.13, u.15, u.17 and women’s clubs in the three Mangaung Metro areas of Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu.Thando Lepele, IBL’s communication manager, said the sponsorship value was R100 000, adding the league was growing in leaps and bounds during the three-year term. The proof is the success of producing players like Sello Japhta, formerly of Free State Stars and now with Orlando Pirates, Tyron Mondi and Thato Pheleu. The partners celebrated the achievement at a glittering function held on Saturday, 23 June, in Bloemfontein, bestowing awards on individual players and teams. Awards included medals, trophies, balls and jerseys to teams promoted and those that won in the various categories. The recipients were as follows: gold awards to Sello Jafta (Orlando Pirates), Tshepo Mohui (SA national u.17), Innocent Motshelamadi (SA national u.17 ), Pule Thekiso and Thato Pheleu (u.17 players). Team prize winners are u.13 Bloemfontein Ocean X1 FC, Botshabelo’s Roo Stars FC and Thaba Nchu’s Mochini X1. The u.15 champions are Bloemfontein’s Namibia Young Stars, Thaba Nchu’s Moroka Zebras FC and Botshabelo’s New Castle FC. The u.17 champions are Botshabelo’s Lynx, Thaba Nchu’s UB 14 FC and Bloemfontein’s Junior Masters. The ladies champions are Botshabelo’s Black Urban, Bloemfontein Ladies and Thaba Nchu’s Barolong Ladies. IBL promotion champions are Botshabelos Pro Mates, Bloemfontein Knowledge Stars and Thaba Nchu Junior Cosmos.