THE NEWSHORN & ESA (Emhlangeni Sports Academy) Soccer Tournament was launched at the Ngwenyama Lodge & Resort last week.
Endorsed and supported by the South African Football Association (SAFA) and hosted by ESA and sponsored by NEWSHORN Media, the tournament is set to kick off this weekend.
About 45 soccer teams from Mbombela will be displaying their talents.
The tournament comprises under 13 teams that play in the Metropolitan league, the Women’s regional and Sasol leagues and both the Promotion and SAB league teams.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Protus Kum of NEWSHORN Media said: “I decided to sponsor the tournament because it will serve as a platform for young stars, especially players to be seen by people who can assist them to grow their talent so that one day, they can play on a professional level. It will also open doors for local referees and coaches, who wish to turn professional.
“Apart from that sport is a unifying factor that has the potential to bring people from different backgrounds together. We are going to use the tournament to fight against crime, substance abuse, and other related problems,” Dr Kum added.
The NEWSHORN Media has injected R75 000 into the tournament.
Tournament administrator Walter “Fire” Mabuyawa said since it was the launch of the new tournament, the decision was taken to keep it within the Mbombela Local Municipality to make it more manageable.
“This is also aimed at making sure that during the offseason for all these teams, they must not just sit and wonder as to what to do next. With so much crime, abuse, and drugs in our communities we don’t want these athletes to find themselves wondering and probably ending up doing all the wrong activities,” said Mabuyawa.
Winners of the tournament would receive prize money, trophies, and medals.
Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation spokesperson, Sibongile Nkosi, has welcomed the tournament.
“This is a good initiative, we are going to interact with the organisers of the tournament to see how we can assist,” said Nkosi.
The tournament will start at the weekend with the first games being played on Saturday and Sunday at Game (Mshadza), Kabokweni (Maporo), Pienaar Township (Mphakatsi Stadium), Matsulu, Barberton and Kanyamazane Stadium.
The finals of the tournament will be played on June 16 at the Kanyamazane Stadium.