SAB and South African Football Association (SAFA) have announced the game schedule for the 15th SAB League National Championships during an official public draw held today at the SAB World of Beer in Newtown, Johannesburg.
The SAB League National Championships are set to take place at the North West University Stadium in Mafikeng, North West province, beginning Monday, 14 July and ending with the final match on Sunday, 20 July.
The participating teams include the nine provinces and a team from University Sports South Africa (USSA). The game schedule for the tournament was drawn as follows:
- Kwazulu Natal
- Free State
- North West
- Western Cape
- Northern Cape
- USSA Football
- Eastern Cape
The Western Cape team is the 2013 defending champion.
SAB has been the title sponsor of SAFA’s largest senior grassroots football division for more than a decade. In 2013, the company extended this commitment in partnership with SAFA to developing the country’s football for a further 5 years.
A commitment to grassroots football development
SAB has long understood the responsibility that comes from being a leading corporate citizen and is constantly striving to be a force for good within society. These efforts extend to sport, in particular, football at grassroots level.
“SAB has been focused on developing people to empower them and transform their lives; a focus that has been honed in on football specifically with development being an important element of our football sponsorship. At the heart of this commitment is a decades-long investment in the country’s largest grassroots league, the SAB League, which aims to develop SA’s future football stars and of course to bring positive socio-economic change to players and in turn, communities, ” says Muzi Chonco, SAB Manager Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Investment.
Chonco’s sentiments were echoed by SAFA’s chair of the Competitions Committee, Nomsa Mahlangu.
“SAB has always been a true and consistent partner when it comes to football development and their commitment to soccer development is well documented in this country. We request other corporates to emulate the corporate citizenship of SAB in helping shape the future of this country, ” said Mahlangu.
An end-to-end approach
SAB’s support and commitment of football in South Africa takes an end-to-end approach, from the youth at grassroots level to the country’s national heroes and incorporates a strong emphasis on skills development. This includes the Castle Lager Super Stars and Carling Black Label Cup Coach the Coaches.
Castle Super Stars and unearthing South Africa’s future football talent
Castle Lager has built on the work done by the SAB League, partnering with SAFA, in 2012 to launch the Castle Super Stars, which seeks to increase the future talent pool of South Africa’s national teams by identifying talent within the SAB League and training top grassroots players.
During the SAB League National Championships this year, the Castle SuperStars scouts and ambassadors, including Neil Tovey and Phil Masinga, will observe players with the hope of unearthing South Africa’s future football talent. Players lucky to be selected attend an intensive two-week training camp designed to fast track player development through a series of seminars and training sessions. During training the Castle Lager Super Stars XI get to play practice matches against top PSL teams where they are exposed to other talent scouts.
Carling Black Label Coaches
Meanwhile, Carling Black label has focused on uplifting coaches, working with the SAB League to identify top coaches and put them through a training programme which will enable them to transition to a higher league, while promoting coaches as educators and role models in communities.
Promoting future football stars
The SAB League has been the source of some of the country’s most talented national players over the years. Year after year, young players are handpicked by PSL and other First Division teams. One such player is Therlo Moosa who played for SAB League defending champions, Western Cape, in 2013, and was awarded Top Goal Scorer and Player of the Tournament. Moosa attracted attention during the SAB League National Championships from several PSL teams including Bloemfontein Celtics, Ajax Cape Town, Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns.
SAB League graduate and Bafana player, Reneilwe ‘Yeye’ Letsholonyana attended today’s announcement. In a frank discussion with MC and local sports presenter, Kwena Moabelo, the two spoke of their experience at third division and role that the SAB League played in grooming them into the lauded players they are today.
“It is every young footballers dream to play football at the highest level. I have been fortunate enough to be one of the many graduates of the SAB League who have gone on to excel and represent the country. I believe that it is through such grassroots football tournaments that the country can continue producing quality footballers, ” said Letsholonyane.
Former coach, Clive Barker, also present to support the national championships public draw and who led the national team to glory in the African Nations Cup in 1996, said “South Africa boasts exceptional football talent. However, tournaments like the SAB League Championships are critical in ensuring that the football talent production chain continues in order for the standard of football to move to the next level. I am quite excited about this tournament and urge other scouts and coaches to come and see the future of the country in Mafikeng”
Adding key life skills training: The Youth Diversion programme
The SAB League National Championships provides SAB with an opportunity to effect change in the lives of participating players by providing them with key life skills training through the company’s Youth Diversion Programme.
The SAB League Youth Diversion programme in partnership with local NGO, Footballers 4 Life, will run during the National Championships on Tuesday, 15th and Saturday, 19th. The workshops are facilitated by former veteran local footballers, including the legendary Silver Shabalala of Amazulu, Cosmos and Black Leopard fame, Collen Tlemo of Cosmos and Portadown, amongst others.
The Youth Diversion Programme focuses on fulfilling players sporting potential, helping them to manage well-balanced and empowered lives and refraining from risky behavior, particularly irresponsible alcohol use. The objective is for them to become powerful influences amongst their peer and in their communities as agents of social change and positive role models.