30 March 2018 – It’s that time of year again when various communities host their annual Easter football tournaments.

The majority of such competitions have become annual events for communities, fans and budding players to look forward to, with youngsters given a rare opportunity to showcase skills and talents.

Apart from South Africa, many other prominent countries across the globe use this period for the similar purpose of providing opportunities to local youth and getting their communities or townships involved.

Spain’s Benidorm Cup, Germany’s Bayern Soccer Cup and Holland’s Easter Open are just three mere examples of the investment into up and coming youth. Such tournaments cater for any player, boy or girl, from Under-7 all the way to U-17 level.

Players can benefit greatly from this and these positive initiatives are critical in providing mediums for youngsters to get involved in the sport that they love and away from drugs, the harsh streets and bad influences. The push into the limelight, even though into the amateur ranks, allows kids to dream, start believing in themselves and in the possibilities that lie in wait. It also helps them to hone their skills and realise their potential while also promoting fair play.

Even though the amounts are fairly small, these cup events also offer decent financial incentives and rewards. Trophies and medals are also handed out which make the participants that much more excited.

Community upliftment is also another major factor. Not only do the locals get a chance to witness some live football competition but also get to enjoy a carnival atmosphere at host centres and have something to look forward to. Via visiting teams and supporters, it is also an opportunity to showcase the respective community and thus contribute to the economic development of the area.

Be it on or off the field, new friendships are also forged (among players and fans) and the comradery and sportsmanship is somewhat unmatched as compared to the professional ranks. Socialisation is a vital aspect here.

A great example of a fun Easter tournament happens to take place in the city that I reside in – Pietermaritzburg. ‘Sleepy Hollow’, as they refer to it, may be boring at times but never around Easter, as local soccer body Newholmes Football Association is currently celebrating their 82nd anniversary of their particular event.

The entire weekend is filled with football fixtures, queen parades, best-dressed team contests, various grand challenges, food stalls and much more.

By: Dhirshan Gobind