No room for cheats in Schools Cup

THE battlefields have been levelled for 18 high schools that will vie for the R1 million first prize of the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup that kicks off in Bloemfontein today and ends on Saturday.

The legitimacy and ages of participating players from the nine provincial champions and their runners-up were verified before the tournament started.

The competition that is sponsored by Sanlam and the Kay Motsepe Foundation to the tune of R3million is played under the auspices of the South African Schools Football Association (Sasfa).

Sasfa national competition director Themba "Shakes" Tshabalala said they wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened in last year's edition in Klerksdorp, where two Limpopo schools were disqualified. Khaiso and OR Tambo high were found to have fielded overage players and defaulters.

"We have tightened all the loose ends to allow fair play to prevail. Teachers should always be reminded that the tournament is not all about money but about the development of the youngsters. We have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to any form of cheating," Tshabalala said yesterday.

Tshabalala's sentiments were shared by the federation's disciplinary committee chairperson, Mike "Prosecutor" Hlaka, who said they would not hesitate to send a school packing from the event.

"Team managers and coaches should not take chances because they will be embarrassed in front of the players. Any form of cheating, especially with identity documents, will be reported to the police," Hlaka said.

In the absence of defending champions Jet Nteo from Sebokeng, the battle is expected to be between last year's national runners-up Harmony Academy of Free State, Gauteng's Rosina Sedibane Modiba and Johannesburg High, as well as North West's Sol Plaatjie.

Other schools in the competition are Mahlale and Amendo from Mpumalanga; Westridge and Beaufort West (Western Cape); Cabangokuhle and Embizeni (KwaZulu-Natal); Pabalelo and Rietvale (Northern Cape); Boipatong (North West); Dr Reginald Cingo (Free State); Mafsiakgomo and Phagameng (Limpopo); and Jojo and Uncedo from (Eastern Cape).