After two weeks of delays, Golden Chiefs FC was finally crowned champions of the 31 Status tournament at Ntabethemba on Saturday.
The competition, held annually under the auspices of the NPO 31 Status, pitted 14 soccer teams and six netball teams from Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality ward 32 villages.
While soccer fans waited two weeks for a final after weather caused delays, Happy Fighters netball club treated spectators to a thrilling final in which they beat Rocklands netball 14-11 on the opening weekend.
Golden Chiefs’ win came courtesy of Yanga Maxwane who scored a hat-trick in the first half, putting the game beyond the reach of fellow finalists, Happy Fighters FC. Although Luthando Munyu managed to net a goal in the second half for Happy Fighters, the game ended 3-1 to Chiefs.
Golden Chiefs’ coach, Lumkile Mhaleni, was ecstatic about the win, congratulating his team on having the grit to maintain discipline throughout the tournament.
“In all the hardships we faced throughout this time – preparing for the competition and during the competition – my boys worked hard. The final was great. Happy Fighters FC is a good team. I have to praise the discipline the boys showed this whole week as it was not easy after the competition kept on being delayed,” Mhaleni said.
Secretary of 31 Status, Lungisile Dyasi, said they were happy with the success of the tournament.
“We are very happy with the way the competition panned out. Because of weather, we could not conclude last week, but fortunately this week it played ball,” said Dyasi.
The tournament is now in its third year and Dyasi said they were encouraged to keep hosting the annual event although they still did not have major partners.
“We are an NPO that was started by university students. This is something we wanted to do for our community. We noticed that sport in Ntabethemba was dying and, as a result, substance abuse was on the rise. Currently we charge teams an entry fee which is divided as winnings among the finalists. We do hope that in the future we will be able to get a sponsor,” Dyasi said.