Motsepe League up and running after a year on hold

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Bizana Pondo Chiefs celebrate winning the ABC Motsepe League national playoffs final match against Pretoria Callies in November. The league resumed this week after a year of no action. Picture: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images
Bizana Pondo Chiefs celebrate winning the ABC Motsepe League national playoffs final match against Pretoria Callies in November. The league resumed this week after a year of no action. Picture: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

SPORT


Following two false starts, the ABC Motsepe League is finally back – but Safa is treading carefully against the backdrop of the looming threat of a third wave of Covid-19 infections in the coming months.

The league, sponsored by the family foundation of CAF presidential hopeful Patrice Motsepe, has been through a difficult period due to the global health crisis.

It has been a year since games in the third-tier structure were played.

The league has endured a number of cancellations of amateur football activities in the country.

READ: Simo Dladla’s Natal Rich Boyz back in the spotlight

However, all provinces are now back in action, except for the Western and Eastern Cape.

KwaZulu-Natal were the first to resume games last week, while others returned to the pitch this week.

Government’s rolling out vaccinations and we believe a possible third wave won’t necessarily result in games being called off because most of the people will have received the injection.
Mzwandile Maforvane

Mzwandile Maforvane, the Safa executive committee member tasked with overseeing the league, says it’s all systems go for getting the 114-club structure back into competition.

“The games have already started. It was just an issue of having workshops with the clubs regarding health and protocol procedures that need to be followed,” says Maforvane.

“Most of them started this previous week. The clubs and the provinces have been engaged and we’re pleased that games have been played. This is because we have a shorter period in which to work.

“The league usually starts in August, but this time we only start in March. The season will need to be completed by June, as usual. That’s why we felt that the two-stream solution would work best.”

The amateur league has been hardest hit by the pandemic. The 2019/20 season was set to be completed, but it was decided in August that teams at the top of their respective provinces would go straight to the play-offs. That decision was not well received by many, because teams had returned to training in anticipation of resuming the league.

Club owners lost a lot of money complying with safety regulations related to the virus.

In the end, Bizana Pondo Chiefs and Pretoria Callies went on to earn promotion to the GladAfrica Championship.

READ: Chiefs suffer another Ke Yona embarrassing moment

Amateur teams were also excluded from the Nedbank Cup after Safa suspended games due to the second wave of Covid-19 infections in January.

This decision was made to the ire of Ngwaabe Motor City, who had already qualified for the Ke Yona Cup in December.

With so many disturbances already plaguing the league, Maforvane cautions that a possible third wave of infections would result in yet another halt.

“We’re keeping an eye on the situation and, of course, we’ll make decisions that are in everyone’s best interests. There have been warnings about a third wave, but we feel we’ll be prepared for it,” he says.

With the help of the provinces, we’ve been able to get back to football. Some provinces have agreed to work on a two-stream system.

“Government’s rolling out vaccinations and we believe a possible third wave won’t necessarily result in games being called off because most of the people will have received the injection.”

Maforvane praises provinces for cooperating with the restructuring of the league format.

“With the help of the provinces, we’ve been able to get back to football. Some provinces have agreed to work on a two-stream system. With that system, teams will play fewer games, but we’ll be able to complete the season in time,” he says.

The Motsepe League needs to ensure that there will be two teams qualified for the first division when the 2021/22 season begins in August.


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Gomolemo Motshwane  

Sport journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gomolemo.motshwane@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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