Junior teams to have a ball

Richard Nkosi

Richard Nkosi

Embalenhle Sasol Recreation Club will be a hive of activity when 98 junior teams from the Safa Gert Sibande region in Mpumalanga compete in the five-a-side deve-lopment finals this weekend.

The games will be played on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 9am.

The finals will be contested by Under-13, -15 and -17 boys, and girls in the Under-15, Under-17 and open divisions.

Bazooka Mkhonza, Mpumalanga Sports Academy (MSA) development coach, said many people did not understand the five-a-side game.

"In these types of games it's where talent can be identified," said the former Orlando Pirates development coach.

"The space on the pitch is narrow and it makes players think quickly and be intelligent.

"Once these players grow and take part in [games on] larger fields, they find it easy to manoeuvre on them," he said.

Mkhonza said the five-a-side games were played by players of yesteryear, but at that time it was known as chialances.

All seven municipalities in the Gert Sibande region, namely Govan Mbeki (the hosts of the finals), Lekwa, Dipaleseng, Mkhondo, Msukaligwa, Pixley Ka Seme and Albert Luthuli muni-cipalities, will be represented.

Boy Sikhosane, MSA chief executive, said the rationale behind the five-a-side soccer development finals is also to prepare the province for the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

They are also meant to enhance the level of performance of talented athletes and coaches and increase the rate of sports deve-lopment in the province.

"In August and September this year the matches will played in the Ehlanzeni region. Plans are also afoot to target Nkangala," said Sikhosane yesterday.