N Cape hungry for pro team

The continued lack of a professional soccer outfit in Northern Cape is a cause for concern for the Sol Plaatje municipality and the provincial government.

Northern Cape also does not have a club campaigning in the National First Division. The last time the province had a semi-professional club was Basotho Tigers, who were relegated five years ago.

"We are not happy at all that we do not have a club in the Premiership nor in the NFD. This has been going on for a long time and has to stop," said Patrick Lenyibi, the municipality's mayor.

For now, the municipality has a partnership with Premiership side Ajax Cape Town to play some of their Premiership and other competi- tive matches in the area as part of a campaign to promote the high-profile soccer fixtures.

"We have also formally asked the Ajax development programme to help us by conducting coaching clinics in the municipality. There are 20 promising youngsters who have been selected and will be developed by Ajax.

"The selected boys will have their academy's needs paid for, we hope that will help to encourage more youngsters to start taking soccer seriously," said Lenyibi, himself a former soccer player and administrator.

Lenyibi said the municipality was so desperate to have at least one semi-professional club as a matter of urgency that they are prepared to facilitate the purchase of the status of any struggling club.

"We are not happy at all that some of our community members have to travel long distances to as far as Johannesburg, Durban and Tshwane to watch professional soccer because we have no club in our area," said Lenyibi.

"The support displayed by our people during the Premiership and knockout competition matches here last season is a clear indication that they are hungry for professional soccer.

"Our people have made it clear that they want more high-profile soccer on a regular basis"