We need more platforms like Varsity Football

2014-09-05 21:40

I was in the media box as the University of the Free State surrendered a 1-goal lead to hand North-West University an away stalemate. This meant the latter would remain unbeaten in the round-robin phase of the Varsity Football tournament. I could see the home crowd going from hysteria to deflation in a matter of seconds.

Upon interviewing both the home side’s coach and captain, I noticed that neither of them was gutted. Perhaps with the performance, but not the result. I’d like to believe they were familiar with the result of the match in Pretoria (Tuks beat NMMU 4-0). By virtue of goal difference, Kovsies were through to the semifinals. This is a considerable improvement from their performance in the inaugural instalment of Varsity Football, which incidentally included a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of NWU. They learnt from their mistakes and patched up where necessary.

Before Varsity Sports introduced Varsity Football, performing well at the University Sports South Africa (USSA) finals was a clear goal for all institutions, but there was no substantial incentive to actually take it seriously. Now teams approach USSA knowing that they need to place in the top 8 to qualify for the Varsity Football. With this comes a number of benefits.

Firstly, the exposure the players get cannot be stressed enough. PSL and NFD clubs send scouts to matches to poach players who show enough potential to play with the big boys. Thabo Mnyamane is a good a example of this [he was signed by Amatuks from North-West University after starring in the first edition of Varsity Football]. Even recently-axed Polokwane City coach Boebie Solomons hinted at looking for talent during the tournament. He also lamented the lack of competition for South African youngsters. Secondly, participating teams look to improve the quality of their football. Newbies University of Limpopo will take some lessons from their first campaign and plot a renewed assault. Thirdly, the overall competition becomes a better spectacle. Few people would have expected the University of Johannesburg to take all three points from their away match versus the University of Pretoria. The fact that the match ended 0-4 still has some people shocked, to say the least.

Considering the sorry state of South African football [or soccer], Varsity Football can act as a cog to set us on our way back to our former greatness. This is only the start. A lot more needs to be done to speed up the transition from continental laughing-stocks to African powerhouses. The first start would be to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Yes, we HAVE to qualify since we are not hosting the tournament.

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2010-11-21 18:15

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