After 29 days of showboating and thrilling action packed Kasi diski ,the 2018 Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge came to a close on the 29th of December at the Nike Football Training Centre. This was the 16th Edition of the Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge and new teams being crowned in their divisions.
The Walter Sisulu is known as a refinement ground where new talent is discovered, professional players such as Lyle Foster who recently signed with France Ligue 1 club AS Monaco, the U17 National Coach Simphiwe Dludlu and U/20 coach Thabo Senong, Orlando Pirates’ Linda Mntambo,Xola Mlambo and Mamelodi Sundowns Sibusiso Vilakazi just to name a few graced the tournament with their presence – an exciting opportunity for the young players who took turns taking selfies and pictures with the stars.
It has always been the vision of the Soweto Local Football Association president , Phil Mogodi to honour the late liberation leader and ANC stalwart , Walter Sisulu- in its 16 years of running , the Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenges continue to give young players an opportunity to be unearthed and young coaches to be exposed to greater heights of becoming professional coaches.
“My vision for this tournament was to establish a platform for local clubs and players to be scouted by professional clubs ,it’s a great feeling knowing that the vision that began 16 years ago continues to prosper and nature more talent , the likes of Lyle Foster who started in his career in this tournament and now has signed for French giants, AS Monaco- Simphiwe Dludlu who has made her mark as a national coach also played in this tournament as well as the Linda Mntambo who now plays for one of South Africa’s biggest club, Orlando Pirates.
Everyone knows that the tournament takes place during the time of the year when professional clubs avail their scouts to come unearth new talent and hopefully recruit them to their various clubs. The Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge grows every year and his year the tournament attracted 120 teams in the senior men, women and U17 categories respectively. A number of coaches attended the tournament , the likes of Monde Hlatshwayo who was recently appointed as the NWU varsity cup coach and also played an important role with the U/17 goalkeepers at FIFA Women World Cup tournament in Uruguay also present at the tournament was the Orlando Pirates MDC assistant coach Mandla Qhoqi who had site on a few players especially from Meadowlands Academy and Sneke Chillers.
Mogodi added that the tournament also creates an opportunity for small businesses and local community members to make an extra income especially during the festive season.
“Small business vendors also benefit from the Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge as they are able to make extra money during the tournament, Community engagement is important during this tournament as we want to uplift them. The tournament enables us to create job opportunities for local community members.
Sneke Park Chillers were crowned the 2018 Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge champions in the senior men’s category after an amazing finale against White City Spurs F.C. Spurs had seemed to have sealed it the in the title for the 2nd time, however Sneke Chillers equalized with a minute left of regulation time
The went into a penalty shoot-out and the team from Snake Park became maiden champions with a 4-2 victory when the Chillers goalkeeper and player of the tournament Phumlani Khumalo made a remarkable save that left Spurs in disbelief. Tournament brought excitement and joy to those that travelled to watch the games. Legends such as Joseph Makhaya, Jerry “Legs of Thunder” Sikhosana and Edward “Magents” Motale took part in the legends game against the Discovery Soccer Team.
In the other finals that played in earlier in the day , Hyper Academy from Katlehong won the U/17 category against Naledi Juventus- while in the ladies final,Ya Rona Ladies F.C defeated the 2017 Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge champions Jabu All Stars F.C. to become this year’s champions.