Chaos at city foot­ball tour­ney


CHAOS and con­fu­sion reigned among play­ers and vis­it­ing team of­fi­cials who were sup­posed to have their foot­ball matches played at the AR Abass Sta­dium yes­ter­day on the first day of the Sol Plaatje Lo­cal Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s host­ing of a na­tional in­ter-LFA tour­na­ment in Kim­ber­ley.

The ros­ter of matches set down for the AR Abass Sta­dium could only con­tinue par­tially yes­ter­day as an of­fi­cial, be­lieved to be the fa­cil­ity man­ager, ejected the teams from the sta­dium al­legedly over a dis­puted book­ing of the fa­cil­ity by the tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers.

The teams were later al­lowed lim­ited ac­cess to the sta­dium fol­low­ing pro­tracted talks be­tween the of­fi­cial and Sol Plaatje LFA chap­er­one, Om­phemetse Mab­ula, who had es­corted the East Lon­don Cen­tral LFA teams to the venue.

Only two early matches had been played at the AR Abass Sta­dium yes­ter­day be­fore un­named of­fi­cials stopped the games and in­formed the team of­fi­cials that the venue had been booked out for use over the whole week­end by a church or­gan­i­sa­tion.

When the DFA ar­rived at AR Abass Sta­dium yes­ter­day, by­standers pointed out the of­fi­cial who had ejected the teams from the play­ing field. When ap­proached, the man de­clined to iden­tify him­self and only said: “I am fol­low­ing pro­to­col.”

Mab­ula spoke to the of­fi­cial, say­ing af­ter­wards that they had agreed that the teams could re­turn to the field but that they must wrap up their games by 2pm and make way for the church ac­tiv­i­ties.

Mab­ula pointed out that he had only es­corted the East Lon­don Cen­tral Dis­trict team to the AR Abass Sta­dium and was only in­volved with the tour­na­ment as a team chap­er­one.

Mab­ula said that the lo­cal LFA top brass, who were re­spon­si­ble for the tour­na­ment, were locked in a meet­ing with Depart­ment of Sport, Arts, and Cul­ture (DSAC) se­nior man­ager, David Mdutyana, whose unit is re­spon­si­ble for the sta­dium.

James Alexan­der and Moega­mat Has­san, both of the East Lon­don Cen­tral LFA, said they were in­formed by their col­leagues that the Sol Plaatje LFA had not made ar­range­ments for the fa­cil­ity and that there was to be a church gath­er­ing at the venue that af­ter­noon, which was due to con­tinue un­til Sun­day.

Alexan­der said that two Un­der-14 games had been played ear­lier that morn­ing be­fore the of­fi­cial in­ter­vened to stop the later matches.

“We were un­der the im­pres­sion that he is part of sta­dium man­age­ment. Our par­ents com­mit­tee asked him if we could con­tinue as we still had to play the Un­der-12 and an­other Un­der-14 team,” said Alexan­der.

Asked about what op­tions were now open to them, Alexan­der said their best op­tion was to go to one of the other sta­di­ums in the city host­ing tour­na­ment matches and to watch some of those games.

Both Alexan­der and Has­san said that they had held sev­eral meet­ings with the Sol Plaatje LFA, the last of which was at the end of July in Mos­sel Bay, where they were told “ev­ery­thing is on track”.

“We come here now in Oc­to­ber and ev­ery­thing does not seem to be fine any more,” said Alexan­der.

“We trav­elled from East Lon­don with five teams, from the Un­der-12s to the Un­der-18s and the se­niors. There are still more par­ents com­ing from East Lon­don to this event to watch their young­sters in ac­tion.”

Has­san added: “We have two LFAs from Cape Town, one from Port El­iz­a­beth and one from East Lon­don here, which with the Sol Plaatje and the Phok­wane area makes up six LFAs. We’d like to see the ex­ec­u­tive of the (Sol Plaatje) LFA.”

Mab­ula said later that they had been speak­ing to a DSAC of­fi­cial and they had reached a com­pro­mise.

“David Mdutyana is busy try­ing to or­gan­ise the army grounds at Diskobo­los. These guys can play here up un­til 2pm. What­ever fix­ture they are hav­ing they must be done by then.”

Mab­ula said he was wait­ing for fur­ther in­struc­tions from the Sol Plaatje LFA ex­ec­u­tive who were still to con­clude their talks at Mdutyana’s of­fice.

Mean­while tour­na­ment matches went on un­hin­dered at other venues in the city – two sta­dia in Galeshewe and the De Beers Sta­dium.

Sol Plaatje LFA sec­ond deputy chair­per­son, Mzwandile Mgoma, said that he was aware of the sit­u­a­tion at the AR Abass Sta­dium.

Mgoma said the con­fu­sion stemmed from their long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with DSAC.

“We ap­proached them (DSAC) some time ago and in­formed them about the tour­na­ment we were go­ing to host here. They said they will come back to us.

Not so long ago we went back to check with them and again we struck what could be termed a ‘gen­tle­man’s agree­ment’. In­deed, we have no pa­per trail to prove that we booked the place.

“My con­cern is that we met of­fi­cials who as­sured us and gave the go ahead (for the use of the sta­dium) but it seems the sys­tem failed some­where. We un­der­stand that we have noth­ing in writ­ing and this is the re­sult thereof. We are swal­low­ing a bit­ter pill here”.

Mgoma added that the depart­ment was likely to as­sist them in find­ing a suit­able al­ter­na­tive venue where they will con­tinue with the re­main­ing matches.

“Cur­rently there are pro­cesses in place be­tween us and the depart­ment to help us get on with the re­main­ing games.”

NO GAMES: Pic­ture: Neville Motlhabakwe

Some of the vis­it­ing teams who were left stranded at the AR Abass Sta­dium.

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