Heat, dust and amaz­ing soc­cer

Grocott's Mail - - NEW YEAR’S CUP - By CHRIS TOTOBELA

Ithink who­ever thought of bring­ing such an event to town did a great job, as this was long over­due. In the group stages it was clear that some teams had pre­pared very well and some were just there to make up the num­bers.

In the knock­out stages, we started to see some re­ally good foot­ball, as most teams made their in­ten­tions very clear. It got even bet­ter from the last eight down to the fi­nal.

Some of our lo­cal teams gave a very good ac­count of them­selves, while oth­ers were let down by a lack of good and proper preparation.

For me, the worst game was the open­ing game. It was far be­low the foot­ball-loving pub­lic’s ex­pec­ta­tions (and mine). It was bor­ing and aw­ful.

The pantsula dancers who per­formed at half­time did a bet­ter job of en­ter­tain­ing the spec­ta­tors than the two teams did on the pitch.

My best game will be Amavarara against Fair­field Hunt­ing Stars in the semis. The game had ev­ery­thing that any fan could wish for and the fans were kept on the edges of their seats for the en­tire game. It was an ab­so­lute thriller.

I was so im­pressed by Maru, who came to the tour­na­ment well pre­pared and showed us that the most im­por­tant thing when it comes to such events is to play ef­fec­tive and re­sult­driven foot­ball.

As much as they did not dis­play the best foot­ball that we all know they are ca­pa­ble of, they were very dis­ci­plined and united, and had good team spirit which boosted their morale and gave them the be­lief that they could do this. They de­serve to be cham­pi­ons.

My best mo­ment was see­ing the peo­ple of Gra­ham­stown set­ting aside their dif­fer­ences and ri­val­ries to give all their sup­port to Maru − and that was very nice to see.

The stan­dard of ref­er­ee­ing was very high and all the ref­er­ees were su­perb, ex­cept one or two who did not re­ally come to the party.

It was very sad to see empty sta­di­ums when­ever I went to cover some games in dif­fer­ent venues.

This could eas­ily be at­trib­uted to the gate fees which proved to be too much for the peo­ple of this town.

If peo­ple here strug­gle to buy a loaf of bread, how will they pos­si­bly man­age to pay R20 or R10 every day just to watch a game of foot­ball?

It was also sad to see the fans ex­posed to the hot sum­mer weather with­out any shade from the sta­dium and hav­ing to sit on that hard ce­ment for hours, try­ing to en­joy the game of foot­ball.

The less said about the ap­palling con­di­tion of the field, the bet­ter. Hope­fully the pow­ers that be will take note and make sure that these things are sorted to avoid the dis­sat­is­fac­tion and crit­i­cism ex­pressed by most coaches I spoke to, who were re­ally not im­pressed by the con­di­tion of our only soc­cer fa­cil­ity.

The con­di­tion of the change rooms also needs some se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. Or­gan­is­ers did a great job and must be proud of what they have done.

Hope­fully they will learn from some of the things that did not go well this year, rec­tify them and come back at the end of this year stronger and bet­ter.

I think it would also be bet­ter if more lo­cal peo­ple were in­cluded in key ar­eas of the event, al­low­ing them to learn from the best.

The in­clu­sion of Makana LFA would have been great in all as­pects of the event, as they are the cus­to­di­ans of foot­ball in Gra­ham­stown.

I also think that hawk­ers need to be given a chance to come and sell their fruit and snacks to the vis­it­ing teams, while mak­ing a fair profit.

This was the per­fect plat­form for many teams, es­pe­cially our SAB league teams, to try and test their dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions be­fore the start of the league.

I think this tour­na­ment man­aged to keep our lo­cal play­ers away from their habit of drown­ing them­selves in al­co­hol dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

This big tour­na­ment was hosted here for the first time and there­fore we can­not be too harsh on the or­gan­is­ers Photo: Stephen Pen­ney for some of the things that were poorly han­dled: let us give them time to do their own eval­u­a­tion and wait for the 2017 edi­tion to see if any­thing will change.

• Chris Totobela is coach and man­ager of the suc­cess­ful African Con­nec­tion women’s soc­cer team.

Chris Totobela, left, with Doc­tor Khu­malo at the open­ing cer­e­mony.

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