As Matsapha Government lifted aloft the 2017 trophy amid tremendous excitement and wild celebrations, after thumping Mabondweni 4 – 0 in the final, one could sense that it wasn’t only the ecstasy of winning this year’s edition that formed part of the rapture but also that in that very moment, they were wiping off the bitter disappointment of narrowly losing to Elulakeni Primary School the previous year.
There’s no arguing against the assertion that Matsapha Government deserved to win the trophy more this year. Each time they took to the field, drive and determination were written on their faces. They were better organized as a team – attacking and defending like a swarm of bees; but equally, they had skilful individual players that lifted the team in time of need. Those are the hallmarks of a winning team!
Mabondweni Primary School, this year’s losing finalists tried their best. In fact, to say they were poor would be both inaccurate and unfair. They hit the post several times and forced the opposition goalkeeper – who went on to win the Goalkeeper of the tournament award – to make multiple and crucial saves. They gave us a good game, even though the whole team played barefoot. But as the game progressed, it became evident that it wasn’t their year.
Overall, all the games – from the quarter-finals to the final – made for an excellent spectacle. Interested spectators, fans and scouting coaches were in unison in their appraisal of the skill and talent on display. Even more interesting is the narrowing gap between schools in the rural and urban areas. It is further proof, if more were needed, that talent and skill have no boundary and that time and chance happens for everyone.
Beyond the games themselves, valuable lessons in teamwork, discipline, leadership, hard work and respect are learnt. These are lessons that will serve these youngsters way beyond the twilight of their footballing careers or other careers for that matter. They are life lessons! So, in essence, the SRIC Scara Thindwa Foundation Under-13 Soccer games are a platform for developing tomorrow’s adults, today, equipping these youngsters with lessons that can never be learnt too early. It is perhaps, one of the reasons SRIC has committed to supporting these games well into the future.