MAP Games growing in popularity

Maimane Phiri
Maimane Phiri

Maimane Phiri has vowed never to move his annual tournament away from Alexandra township, despite its immense popularity and concerns that a bigger facility is required.

The annual pilgrimage to the MAP (Maimane Alfred Phiri) Games will commence as the action kicks off this weekend.

Phiri, who was a member of Bafana Bafana's 1998 World Cup squad, is a community leader and businessman in Alexandra. He admits it's a challenge to contain the number of attendees.

The tournament has grown over the past 18 years, with spectators travelling from across the country to attend.

"Quite frankly if we look at how full it was last year, it was madness because the stadium caters for about 15000 people, but we end up having more people than that," Phiri said.

"We have to find a way of controlling the numbers, but the one thing we cannot do is take the tournament away from Alexandra.

"This is where it all started and the games are what they are today because of this kasi (township).

"Every year people look forward to this event where we bring the whole of Alexandra to a standstill."

For the first time, the senior men's final will be broadcast live on SuperSport on July 22.

Phiri is a prime example that former professional footballers do not all have to follow the path of becoming a coach after retirement.

The 44-year-old's businesses include a liquor store and chisa nyama.

"We cannot all be coaches so I try to help where I can. Footballers have an opportunity to save money and do something outside of football after they retire."

Before turning professional, players including Lebogang Manyama, Joseph Molangoane and Bongani Zungu graced the MAP competition.

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