New Shapa Soweto venue to host Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge
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Cape Town — The refurbished Shapa Soweto will host the 18th edition of the Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge, the 21-day tournament featuring 120 teams, starting at Under-17 level through to men's and women's divisions.
The newly renovated Shapa Soweto, formerly known as the Nike Football Training Centre, is in Chris Hani Road, Soweto. The facility has been expanded into a multidisciplinary hub for the area’s young people to explore sport and movement. The grassroots diski tournament, traditionally a feisty football affair, will be played on full-sized pitches.
In addition, the venue also has five-a-side pitches. Nike have partnered with local artists to display custom illustrations and installations throughout the facility.
A limited number of spectators allowed, and only vaccinated individuals will be permitted. All necessary Covid-19 protocols will be in place.
Dr Mosima Mabunda, the Head of Vitality Wellness at Discovery Vitality, said the tournament is a fine example of using sport for the benefit of all. Mabunda, an Oxford graduate, has been a driving force as a business leader, physician, feminist and change agent. She has led the way for people to return to healthy living habits and undo the effects of lockdown,
“Events such as these are part of Vitality’s global pledge to make 100 million people 20% more active by 2025,” she said. "Early in 2020, we were forced to pause sport; clear the pitches and abandon the goalposts.
"Two years on and we’re ready to bring this fabulous football festival back to the people of Soweto – but, with one caveat – all spectators will need to be vaccinated.
“Live sport provides a vehicle through which we can encourage vaccination and further reaffirms Discovery’s purpose of being a force for social good as we strive for team sports once more.
"For this reason, the 2021 tournament edition will be as important off the field as on, in the endeavour to fully vaccinate our Rainbow Nation."
Renowned Soweto football administrator Phil Mogodi, the president of SAFA Johannesburg (Soweto Local Football Association) said the tournament has attracted some of South Africa’s finest talents over the years. Many like Sibusiso Vilakazi, Percy Tau, Keagan Dolly and Lyle Foster went on to play for the national team, Bafana Bafana.
He was grateful that Discovery have maintained a long-lasting partnership with the Local Football Association and ensured the tournament continues to thrive.
“We are grateful this tournament will go ahead," said Mogodi. "In terms of players' footballing journey, the three-week round-robin tournament provides a once in a lifetime experience. You see the growth of a player from the starting whistle to the final handshakes.
"The people of Soweto are hungry to get going once more and play with passion and pride for sure.”