11 December 2020 – It’s that time of the year again where local communities gather to celebrate the beautiful game of football with a carnival of festive season tournaments.
The annual festivities have become part and parcel of the local soccer scene in which young talent get to showcase their raw footballing skills while at the same time being able to promote social cohesion, comradery and upliftment.
One particular event that springs to mind is the celebrated KwaMahlobo Games, which would have celebrated its 24th edition this year. Unfortunately for the community, media, clubs, players, sponsors, match officials and administrators, the tournament will not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organising Committee and all its stakeholders were monitoring the situation carefully but with ‘COVID second-wave’ now a reality, the decision was taken to unfortunately cancel proceedings. The event was planned for 23 December to 5 January and would have added another colourful chapter in the Games rich history, while also creating a number of employment opportunities for local business.
However, the revamped KwaMahlobo Pre-Season Games could kick off early next year while the Easter Games are also a distinct possibility.
“The safety of the players, staff, fans and stakeholders is of utmost importance and we encourage people to stay safe, wear masks and practice good hygiene while avoiding crowed places,” stated tournament director Mr. Fats Nhlapo.
Run by the South African Football Association (SAFA) in conjunction with key partners La Liga and the city of Johannesburg, the cancelation is a prominent dent in the 2020/2021 calendar, as community solidarity is needed now more than ever, not to mention a timely distraction following a rough few months in isolation.
SAFA’s Head of Communications Mr. Dominic Chimhavi concurs.
“KwaMahlobo has become the benchmark of festive season football and always allows budding players the perfect platform for marketing themselves to scouts from all corners of the country. These Games have always produced big names. The pandemic has dealt us a major blow but safety does come first and the Games will come back bigger and stronger next year.”
La Liga utilized this platform to create a huge presence in the country and indeed the continent and the partnership has grown from strength to strength to create a perfect synergy between SAFA and the Spanish body. However, the partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength.
A total of 40 teams vying for R120 000 in prize money is always interesting but alas, the various bodies, supporters as well as players, will have to be a tad more patient.
Die-hard fans will also recall events such as the Walter Sisulu Challenge and the Scara Ngobese Games, which were always exciting and also aided in social and economic development.
Yes the cancellation of festive football, particularly the eagerly anticipated KwaMahlobo Games, is a huge blow to local communities as we all adjust to the ‘new normal’, but the key is to remain positive and have hope for the future. After all, the beautiful game is always worth the wait.