By CHRIS TOTOBELA
All roads led to JD Dlepu stadium last Sunday as the Build It under-13 soccer tournament got under way. Different schools around Makana Municipality participated in this event which proved to be a great family day. Football lovers and the parents braved the chilly and windy weather to support the young boys. There were very closely contested clashes and all the teams gave very good account of themselves. The teams were divided into two groups with the top team from each group proceeding straight to the final.
However, the great football display was overshadowed by both group leaders being disqualified for age discrepancies. Samuel Ntsiko and CM Vellem, who topped their respective groups, were disqualified after allegedly fielding over-age players.
NV Cewu were disqualified for the same alleged offence. This gave a lifeline to the teams that had already been knocked out of the competition, with DD Siwisa and Makana Public Primary School facing off in an entertaining final. Both teams went all out from the first whistle but failed to score as the game ended in a goalless draw. DD Siwisa won 3-2 on penalties to be crowned 2019 Build It under-13 Tournament winners and will proceed to the provincial showpiece. They walked away with a trophy and gold medals, while Makana got silver medals.
The player of the tournament was Liyabona Ntame, who received a trophy, new soccer boots and a kit bag. Build It promised to make it bigger and better next year and have an incentive of R5000 worth of building material to the school that brings the most fans to the event. They also promised to make this a festival that includes netball.
Of the age-based disqualification, the CM Vellem coach expressed his dissatisfaction and said, “I think there was a misunderstanding about the exact year in which the participants were supposed to be born.
“Coming to the tournament, we knew that only players that were born in 2006 were supposed to play, but were told on our arrival that only players born in 2007 are allowed to play. That left us with only six players.”
This was a very good tournament, as all the teams gave their all.
Fielding over-age players is a serious problem – not only at schools but in local football leagues as well. We need coaches to field players who qualify to play in that age group. Football officials need to talk in one voice and come up with a proper plan to eradicate this problem that threatens to overshadow the great football talent that our young players have.