Cape Town - In a move that is bound to accelerate the momentum in affording opportunities to young players, the Premier Soccer League together with MultiChoice announced a major expansion of the Diski Challenge that will see the number of matches played per season double by 100%.
In the new format, MultiChoice Diski Shield will also be remodeled into a Top 8 knockout competition for the clubs finishing in the top8 positions.
This will be in effect as from 2019/20 season.
While revealing details of the newly-revamped Diski Challenge at the launch held at the PSL offices on Thursday morning, PSL Chairman, Dr. Irvin Khoza said that the new format will increase the number of matches played from 120 to 240, together with 18 festival weekends (from existing 12) thereby increasing the tournament’s reach to local communities.
Dr. Khoza said: "Nothing beats a competitive environment and development requires visibility. The MultiChoice Diski Challenge has that visibility – it makes it attractive to the youth who are almost lost to football.
"We believe if you want to remain relevant, you must always bring fresh faces. MultiChoice have brought light to our football.
"The new format of the Diski Challenges will create a legacy that will benefit this country for many years to come not only the PSL Clubs but also the junior national teams. This platform increases competitiveness and keeps our players active and sharp throughout the season."
Matches to be broadcast live go up from 40 to over 70, intensifying the broadcast internship programme as more matches played widens the scope of the programme and will also help build content capacity for the community TV’s with whom the live feed is shared with.
CEO for MultiChoice Calvo Mawela added: "When we launched the Diski partnership with the PSL five years ago, we could never have foreseen the incredible contribution it would make to local football.
"The Diski Challenge has become the cornerstone of South African football development and has seen over 150 players make the leap to professional football locally with others moving to European leagues.
"As we speak, there are about 30 players called up for the 2019 COSAFA Cup, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the Under 20 World Cup currently taking place in Poland.
"It's these incredible milestones achieved in a relatively short period that have resulted in implementing an expansion to the tournament," explained Mawela.
With this major expansion of the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, the Diski Champions Tour as the league winner’s prize, will now move from March to between late April and early May.