And so it was that officials, players, coaches, supporters and the requisite media corps gathered at the Nike Football Training Centre in Klipspruit for the launch of the 2016 edition of the popular tournament initiated in honour of one of South Africa’s founding fathers’ Walter Sisulu.
Now in its 14th year, the renowned soccer fest is scheduled from December 1 to 28, with 104 teams taking to the fields in their quest to be named the 2016 champions. Split into three categories, 56 teams will compete in the main category, 32 teams in the under-17 category and 16 teams in the women’s category.
Discovery’s Head of Experiential Marketing, Iona Maclean, said that her company was proud to be sponsoring an event that has become an institution in Soweto and a highlight for the community. “It is an excellent platform for young players to showcase their soccer talent and for the Soweto community to enjoy brilliant soccer right on their doorstep. The tournament gives us a chance to get involved with the community, it gives people something to aspire to, and by including more categories it ensures that everyone has the opportunity to shine.”
Discovery’s involvement in the event is closely aligned with its core objective of making people healthier and enhancing and protecting their lives. This year’s edition brings with it even more excitement as the insurance entity unveiled Bidvest Wits right-winger, Sifiso Myeni as the official tournament ambassador.
Myeni was one of the notaries at a packed launch presided over by the SABC’s Thomas Mlambo – along with Bafana Bafana skipper, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Banyana Banyana defender, Lerato Kgasago, legend, Portia Modise, Mamelodi Sundowns’ assistant coach, Rulani Mokwena, SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble, Soweto Football Association’s Phil “Chippa” Mogodi and Discovery’s Experiential & Sponsorship Manager, Christy Cunningham.
Having begun his career playing in the self-same tourney, the 28-year old is immensely excited to be involved in the initiative. “As a Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge graduate who grew up in Soweto, I understand that this tournament is a highlight for many amateur players; it has the potential to make their wishes come true, the same way it helped to develop my professional career. I am honoured to be a part of the Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge family,” said Myeni.
Chairman of the Soweto Football Association, Phil Mogodi, applauded Discovery on the momentous work done to date. “The tournament is making a positive and telling contribution in our football. Since its inception, it has helped the country and SAFA in particular in unearthing some promising talent, which are the future stars for our country.”
Mogodi further added that the tournament has in the past lived up to it expectations in displaying great football talent, and this year will be no different. “We look forward to the exceptional 14th edition and urge residents of Soweto to support this great development event.”
2015 reigning champions, Premier Impala FC look to be in for a stiff competition this year as they look to defend their title against eager and skilled opponents.