by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE country’s prime amateur football tournaments will be in full swing this festive season as South Africa’s coronavirus (COVD-19) crisis subsides.
Among the tournaments poised for a welcome return is the KwaMahlobo Games, which was last played in 2020, but was halted by the pandemic and resultant lockdown last year and the Easter 2021 long weekend.
Patrick Dlongolo Ntenjwa, tournament manager and co-founder, confirmed to CAJ News Africa the return of the tournament.
The games will be played at the usual venue, KwaMahlobo Grounds in Meadowlands Zone 10 in Soweto.
“We are on,” Ntenjwa said in an interview.
“We almost there (with preparations). Teams are registering. The draw/launch will be on December 7,” he disclosed.
The tournament will run from December 23 to January 9.
Some 40 teams are expected to participate in what would be the 24th edition of the KwaMahlobo Grounds.
Orlando Mathaithai won the last tournament.
Preparations have received a major boost after sponsorship was secured from a popular betting company and energy drink manufacturer.
The games are to be open for fans as per government regulations.
Fans and teams lost out last year and Easter this year.
Then, the country was under harder restrictions than the current Level One of the lockdown that has been in place since October 1.
Cases of the COVID-19 and deaths have been declining.
Another tournament set to be played this festive season is the Philly’s Games, set for the township of Thembisa, east of Johannesburg.
Preparations are on for the 30th anniversary of the games.
Registrations for teams and vendors are underway.
Dates could not be ascertained at the time of publication.
An official told CAJ News Africa these would be revealed in a fortnight.
Isithembiso are the defending champions.
The festive season games, usually held the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is on a recess, have a rich history and create employment opportunities for local business.
The games make a return as the South African Football Association (SAFA) has been allowing fans back into stadia.
Some 2 000 vaccinated fans per match were allowed into the FNB Stadium for Bafana Bafana’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in October and the recent one against neigbouring Zimbabwe.
– CAJ News