9 July 2018 – As the football community gears up for the culmination of South Africa’s largest and most successful grassroots football development league, Kwa-Zulu Natal is ready to play host to the much-anticipated SAB League U21 National Championships.
The tournament will be played at the King Zwelithini Stadium, Umlazi from the 17th to the 22nd of July 2018.
The SAB League National Championship pits the provincial champions as well as a university select side against one another in a display of the finest grassroots football the country has on offer.
Having established itself as a hub for the identification of players in South Africa, players such as the 2017/18 footballer of the season – Percy Tau and the youngest player of the season, Siphesihle Ndlovu are both products of the SAB League.
In addition to playing the SAB League for a number of years, the 21-year-old Ndlovu was part of the 2016 group of students who underwent a week-long training to gain an Administrators’ accreditation.
Ndlovu was in attendance at the launch of the National Championships at the Moses Mabhida stadium, and shared his journey in the SAB League and how it shaped him into the player he is.
“I can never emphasize just how impactful the SAB League has been in my life. Growing up, a huge amount of importance has been placed on development in South Africa, it was rare to have initiatives which focus on other aspects of the game,” said the Maritzburg United marksman.
“I consider myself fortunate to have been able to interact with the sport differently through the administration course. The course has given me a deeper understanding of the sport and I applaud both SAB and SAFA for giving young players like myself an opportunity beyond what takes place on the football pitch.”
Ndlovu’s words were echoed by one of South Africa’s most influential young coaches, Rhulani Mokwena who expressed his delight at football programmes which also equip all stakeholders for life outside of football.
“It is impressive that the SAB League is not just about the development of players and develops across the football structures. To sit here as a coach, in a panel made up of administrators, players, match officials who have all been developed under the same programme demonstrates just how well structured and advanced the SAB League is,” said Mokwena.
“I have coached some exceptional players under the SAB League and with the ongoing innovation taking place, it is impossible to measure the huge impact the SAB League has on our football.”
AB-InBev’s BetterWorldProject Manager, Kalashni Narainsamy expressed the brand’s delight at the success of the 2017/2018 SAB League season.
“This has been an exceptional year for the SAB League and it is exciting to have the National Championships in a football loving city like Durban. This season has proven the effectiveness of our proud partnership with SAFA of over two decades. The season began with the Kit handovers in all 52 regions, changing the lives of over 30 000 players nationwide,” added Narainsamy.
“The journey continued as we held Skills Camps for Coaches and Match officials in the beginning of the year, while the ongoing league fixtures culminated into the upcoming National Championships.”
Last year’s Championship was nothing short of action, as Gauteng province beat the 2016 champions – USSA. It was during the 2017 U21 National Championships were the then 21-year old Yusuf Bunting bagged a first team contract with Soweto Giants, Kaizer Chiefs following an outstanding performance from the pacey player.
SAFA Chief Executive Officer, Dennis Mumble further encouraged the players to use the platform to their full advantage.
“It is through the SAB League that we have future Bafana Bafana stars like Siphesihle Ndlovu and I would like to encourage the players and coaches alike, to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to their full advantage in hopes of adding competent individuals to our football structures,” said Mumble.
SAB U21 National Championships Draw Results:
17 July – 22 July 2018
|Group A||Group B|
|Northern Cape (A1)||USSA (B1)|
|Mpumalanga (A2)||Limpopo (B2)|
|Free State (A3)||Western Cape (B3)|
|Gauteng (A4)||North West (B4)|
|KwaZulu Natal (A5)||Eastern Cape (B5)|
|Day 1 – 17 July 2018|
|Day 2 – 18 July 2018|
|Day 3 – 19 July 2018|
Day 4- 20 July 2018
|Winner Group A||vs||Runner up Group B||11h00||Field A|
|Winner Group B||vs||Runner up Group A||11h00||Field B|
|Day 5- 21 July 2018||
|Day 6 -22 July 2018|
|Loser semi-final 1||vs||Loser semi-final 2||11h00||Stadium|
|Winner semi-final 1||vs||Winner semi-final 2||15h00||Stadium|