Tournament aims to inspire
The inaugural Heritage Day Football Tournament, sponsored by Samara Private Game Reserve, coincided with this celebrated public holiday at the Umasizakhe Soccer Stadium in Graaff-reinet on Monday, 24 September.
Anneley Gradwell, an assistant manager at Samara, was instrumental in getting the event off the ground.
Gradwell said the youth of Graaff-reinet need support to see a future for themselves.
“Too many end up getting involved in drugs and crime because it seems like there is no other option.”
The slogan for the tournament, Masibabanye yeyethu sonke, encapsulates the spirit of the initiative, based on inclusivity and accessibility, hope and opportunity, meaning: “We must be one, it's ours”
She said the tournament was a way of motivating youngsters to challenge themselves and think about their purpose in life.
“Everyone has a purpose - and sport can help to make that purpose clear, as well as keeping them busy after school,” said Gradwell.
She said the game reserve already contributes to the community, especially through employment.
“Samara’s director, Sarah Tompkins wanted to help more, and I suggested that football could be a good start.” Photo: Jason Milford.
The knock-out football tournament brought together 8 teams of boys aged 15 to 30 years old, mainly from the communities of Asherville, Kroonvale and Umasizakhe.
The winning team was the Dangerous Darkies who beat the Portical Birds 3-0 in the final after Greg Davids scored two goals in the last five minutes.
Davids was named Man of the Match - an impromptu but deserved accolade.
“It was not part of the arrangements, but if you see someone doing well you must praise and support them.”
Third place was taken by the Morocco Eagles. Each player in the top three teams received a medal. When it comes to the future of the tournament, Gradwell is adamant that this is just the beginning.
She would like to see the event extended beyond football to other sports including netball and across age groups to include 13 to 15-year-olds. She also hopes to involve schools and eventually the entire Beyers Naude municipality, including those living on farms in the region.
She said the game reserve would like to thank all those who participated, contributed and supported the Heritage Day Football Tournament.
“We hope to continue this tournament year after year, and look forward to working with other stakeholders to encourage the youth of the region to believe in their future.”
Representatives from Samara, the mayor’s office and the local soccer club attended the event.
The winning team, the Dangerous Darkies who beat the Portical Birds 3-0 in the final.