Saturday afternoon saw the driving range at the Tzaneen Showgrounds transformed into two standard-sized soccer pitches to host the finals of the Game of Stars 2018 Tournament. This tournament was the brainchild of former Bafana Bafana soccer legend, Mark Fish through his foundation in conjunction with local farmers association Agri Limpopo.
The aim of the tournament was to garner the support of the local farming community through the establishment of soccer teams comprised of farmworkers on the various farms. These teams would then represent their farm in a tournament which lead up to the finals this past weekend. The secondary objective of this initiative was to provide a pool of fresh talent for national and league team selection.
According to Fish, who was present at almost every match played during the tournament, as well as at the finals on Saturday, the talent on the farms in the Limpopo Province is astounding.
“The guys are physically strong and fit and play a quick, aggressive game which makes for good selection material,” he said. “I was very impressed by the level of skill I have witnessed and I am sure that in the future you will see some national players come from this tournament. I feel very confident that these guys have benefitted as much from the Game of Stars Initiative as the game of soccer will.”
The tournament is played with the FastFooty© format which is an 11 vs 11 T20 style football aimed at speeding up the game, getting players to think and communicate strategically and encourages players to score from outside the 18 yds area (counts as two goals). It includes a PowerPlay where the opposition must send three players off the field for 6 minutes. The coaches reported that since they started playing this format their team’s performance in their communities showed marked improvement.
A total of 10 teams battled it out to determine the winner for the 2018 tournament. A whopping 36 goals were scored to the delight of the spectators. Ultimately there can only be one winner and Richmond Kopano Farming (part of the Komati Group) from Hoedspruit walked away with the honours.
Richmond faced off against Mahela Group in the Top 10 Playoff round and after beating them convincingly by 4 goals to 1, they were through to the quarter finals where they met De Wagendrift. It was a close match which saw Richmond clinch the win in the dying moments of the second half by 2-1. Westfalia United waited for the chance to tackle Richmond in the semi’s but were not up to the challenge and conceded the match by 1 goal to Richmond’s 5.
The final match pitted Richmond against a tough Maroi Boerdery team who made sure that the Black and Gold Machine worked for the single goal that saw them raise the cup. The match ended in favour of the Hoedspruitians with a score of 1-0.
Kenneth Mafogo of the Richmond team was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament with Maroi Boer-
dery’s Alick Phiri taken the Best Defender Award home. Stanley Kwinika also added to the Maroi silverware haul with his award for Best Midfielder while Richmond’s deadly striker, Orphan Mahlako was named the Overall Best Player and Top Goal Scorer of the Tournament.