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26 October 2015 | in NUSF News, Summer FISU World University Games, Football

University Football in South Africa on the Rise

 

 

CAPETOWN - The annual South African Varsity Football tournament recently concluded its third successful season, with the competition growing in leaps and bounds since its first instalment in 2013.

The tournament, which features eight of the country’s top university football teams, runs for three months beginning in July, pitting all eight universities against each other in a League format, with the top four sides qualifying for the semi-finals.

The 2015 Final was hosted by the University of the Western Cape, who came back from a goal down to beat Pretoria-based Tshwane University of Technology 2-1 and lift their first Varsity Football crown, ending the run of University of Pretoria – winners in 2013 and 2014 – who were knocked out in the semi-finals.

The tournament has enjoyed widespread acclaim, enjoying national television coverage while also filling the stadia with thousands of joyous supporters. A number of high-profile sponsors secured their involvement in Varsity Football to ensure the competition’s sustainability while aiding the rise of university sport in the country.

This year’s tournament involved 16 of the 20 South African players that represented their country at the 2015 Universiade in Gwangju just weeks before the start of the prestigious domestic competition, with the talented students finishing a respectable sixth at the Universiade in South Korea.

South Africa’s Head of Delegation in Gwangju Mandla Gagayi, who is the Director of Sport at newly-crowed title winners University of the Western Cape, feels the Universiade provided ideal preparation for the players to up their game and strut their stuff in the local tournament, though admitting the football played at the Universiade was at a much higher level.

“The standard at the Universiade was very competitive compared to Varsity Football, because there you had national teams in action,” he says. “Yet it helped to give all players a last competitive pre-season preparation for the Varsity Football League.”

Gagayi then lauded the efforts of Varsity Football, which is endorsed by the South African Football Association and University Sport South Africa (FISU member association USSA), for giving students the platform to showcase their sporting talents to the nation, while supporting them in their studies as well.

“Varsity Football is a great initiative in that it allows for student players to play football at competitive level whilst also achieving academically,” he said. “It will contribute a great deal in producing academically qualified football players in SA - something that is currently very rare in our professional league.”

Such competitions can only enhance the level of sport in the country while helping mould holistic youngsters both on and off the sports field – a superb initiative indeed.

 

Fabio De Dominici, U-Media Reporter