Home competition discipline Master’s League Easter Tournament 2024 a resounding success

Master’s League Easter Tournament 2024 a resounding success

The Diamond Park Masters were crowned the new Sol Plaatje Masters League Easter Soccer Tournament winners after defeating the Aztec Masters 1-0 in the final. Aztec Masters losing captain Molehe Ledibane (left) hands over the trophy to Daimond Park Masters winning captain Jan Mattews. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Underdogs Diamond Park Masters beat defending champions Aztecs to show what grit and determination can do.

The annual Sol Plaatje Masters League Easter Soccer Tournament is a cornerstone event for soccer enthusiasts in Kimberley, showcasing the fervour and passion of the local soccer scene in the Northern Cape, confirming the cherished sentiment that “local is lekker”.

This year’s Easter Soccer Tournament was as impressive as ever, featuring 41 eager teams vying to make their mark on Kimberley’s soccer legacy. The high level of participation highlighted the strong commitment to the Sol Plaatje Masters League, where the ultimate goal awaited the victors at the tournament’s end.

The tournament, held at the Diskobolos Sport Grounds, took place across four fields and organisers worked hard to ensure that the tournament unfolded seamlessly over the course of several action-packed days.

The play-offs

After the weekend’s action, the sun rose on Monday morning, signalling the play-offs and anticipation reached a fever pitch among players and spectators alike. The final four teams stood on the precipice of glory, ready to leave their mark on the storied tournament.

In the losers’ section, Riverton Masters had a bye as Newtown Masters squared off against Juventus Masters in a clash of titans. Despite Newtown’s valiant efforts, Juventus showcased their supremacy on the field, notching an impressive 5-0 victory that reverberated throughout the stadium, leaving their opponents reeling in defeat.

A Newtown Masters player (Green) is seen trying to outsmart a Juventus Masters player. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Meanwhile, in the winners’ bracket, with Diamond Park on a bye, defending champions Aztec Masters faced a formidable challenge from Diamond Boys Masters, and in the end, it was Aztecs who emerged victorious, narrowly edging out their opponents with a hard-fought 1-0 win, much to the dismay of the Diamond Boys supporters, who had dared to dream of an upset.

An Aztec Masters player (in white) leaps for a header to gain possession for his team. Photo: Danie van der Lith

With the stage set for the final showdown, Juventus Masters and Riverton Masters took to the field to vie for the coveted third-place position. In a thrilling encounter that had spectators on the edge of their seats, Juventus emerged triumphant with a narrow 2-1 victory, securing their spot on the podium.

A Riverton Masters player is seen jumping in the air to get control of the ball. Picture: Danie van der Lith

But the pinnacle of drama awaited in the championship match, where Aztecs, stalwarts of the league, clashed with the upstart underdogs, Diamond Park. In a stunning turn of events, Diamond Park defied all expectations by scoring a late goal, clinching a historic victory, and sending shockwaves through the soccer community.

Diamond Park’s journey

In an exclusive interview with the DFA following the electrifying championship match, Jan Matthews, the captain of Diamond Park Masters, candidly reflected on his team’s journey through the Easter Tournament.

Jan Matthews, the captain of Diamond Park Masters. Picture: Danie van der Lith

With a sense of pride evident in his voice, Matthews revealed the challenges his team faced. “We struggled a bit in the beginning, but we worked hard and broke out of that dip we were in to achieve what we achieved today.”

Despite being initially underestimated as newcomers to the Masters League, Matthews expressed immense satisfaction in his team’s ability to overcome adversity and emerge victorious, declaring, “I am very proud of my boys for what they achieved.”

Looking ahead, Matthews outlined his team’s ambitions, emphasising their determination to continue their upward trajectory in the Masters League. “We are currently lying eighth on the Sol Plaatje Masters League log, and we will want to improve on that,” he affirmed, adding, “So we will put in the hard work to achieve that.”

Meanwhile, Aztec Masters’ captain, Molehe Ledibane, graciously acknowledged their opponent’s victory.

“All the teams did really well this year, and we enjoyed playing against the newly crowned Sol Plaatje Masters League Easter Soccer Tournament winners, Diamond Park Masters,” he said. “They are a new team in the league, but they deserved this win.”

Resounding success – few sponsors

Seabata Makhele, the esteemed chairperson for the Sol Plaatje Masters Football League, lauded this year’s Easter Soccer Tournament as a resounding success. Makhele expressed his delight, remarking, “It was one of the best tournaments so far.”

Seabata Makhele, chairperson for the Sol Plaatje Masters Football League. Picture: Danie van der Lith

He attributed this triumph to the remarkable turnout of 41 clubs, making it the largest tournament in history. Makhele emphasised that it was not only about the number of teams, but the quality of football. “The standard of football on display was a testament to the depth we have,” he said, highlighting the exceptional talent and competitiveness showcased by all participating teams.

Acknowledging the logistical challenges posed by the sheer magnitude of the tournament, Makhele emphasised the significance of hosting the event at Diskobolos. With the capacity to accommodate multiple matches simultaneously on four fields, Diskobolos proved indispensable in ensuring the smooth execution of the tournament, allowing matches to proceed in a timely manner.

However, amidst the success, Makhele lamented the absence of sponsors for an event of such magnitude. Reflecting on the missed opportunity, he said, “It is a pity that we had a tournament of this magnitude, and we didn’t really have any sponsors that got on board with us.”

But, despite this setback, Makhele remained optimistic about the future, expressing his hope to secure sponsors for future editions to further elevate the league’s profile.

Turning his attention to the Sol Plaatje Masters Football League itself, Makhele noted the league’s remarkable growth, necessitating an extension into next year to complete the season. He extended his gratitude to the loyal supporters from all clubs, whose unwavering dedication was instrumental in the tournament’s success.

The Red Cross’s valuable support

In a heartfelt gesture of appreciation, Makhele extended his thanks to key partners, including the DFA and the Red Cross, for their invaluable support. Highlighting the Red Cross’s crucial role in providing first aid assistance, Makhele expressed gratitude for their partnership.

Members from the Red Cross in Kimberley are seen carrying a player off the field for medical attention. Picture: Danie van der Lith

He said, “They understood that we had no sponsors and they came on board as partners to assist us, and for that, we want to give them a big thank you.”

Makhele’s words encapsulated the spirit that defined this year’s tournament, underscoring the importance of community support and partnerships in fostering the growth and success of local soccer.

Mojalefa Mogorosi, Provincial Manager for the South African Red Cross, commended the organisers for prioritising player safety. “It was a tough weekend,” he said, but like our motto says, ‘Always needed, always there.’

Mojalefa Mogorosi, Provincial Manager for the South African Red Cross is seen with some of the Red Cross members. Picture: Danie van der Lith

As the final whistle echoed across the stadium, signalling the end of the 2024 tournament, the legacy of the Sol Plaatje Masters League Easter Soccer Tournament continued to resonate, serving as a beacon of inspiration for soccer enthusiasts across the Northern Cape.

With plans for continued growth and development, the stage is set for future editions to build upon the foundation laid by this year’s resounding success.

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