Heat, dust and amazing soccer
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.