ON the 3rd of June, Mpumalanga’s Nkomazi region – the heartland of our Selati sugar brand – was ablaze with football fever as the final match of the 128 teams contended for the coveted title of 2018 Selati Cup Champion. The excitement reached a crescendo on the day when and a record-breaking crowd of around 20 000 people descended on Kamhlushwa Stadium for the Cup FInal…and they weren’t disappointed! 

No one could have anticipated the battle that would take place between the final two Men’s teams, Boschfontein FC and Naas Academy. At full time, the two competitors were tied at 3 all before the epic penalty shootout that ended with Boschfontein defeating Naas by 7 goals to 6 and taking the title of 2018 Selati Cup Champions. In the Men’s third and fourth-place final between Shongwe Chiefs and Steenbok Classic, Chiefs defeated Steenbok by 2-0 to take the third place trophy. Meanwhile, there was plenty of action in the Ladies’ final as Super Strikers and rivals Phefeni fought it out to the final whistle, with Super Strikers taking home the prize with 2 goals to nil.

The now famous Selati Cup was started 13 years ago as a way to bring camaraderie, entertainment and joy to the people of Mpumalanga, many of whom are also part of our Selati family. Since then, the tournament has grown in size and popularity each year – attracting teams in increasing numbers and level of skill, along with national football scouts eager to uncover new talent. Nowadays, 128 teams take part in the tournament over the course of three months, with the action culminating in an action-packed final where teams compete for a prize purse of over R100 000. And then of course there are the Selati Cup Awards which give formal recognition to the tournament’s top performers, officials and our ever-supportive media sponsors. These will be held on 22 June this year.

“For the second year running, we were honoured to have international soccer star, Lucas Radebe, guiding the semi-finalist teams through a training workshop leading up to the final. But for fans, the best part was still the camaraderie and excitement of cheering their favourite teams on, especially in the packed final that brings over 15 000 spectators to Kamhlushwa Stadium. No team has ever won the cup more than once, and this year it was no different. This shows just how competitive the field really is as new talent comes to the fore each year and more strong teams come into the running,” says Selati Cup Co-ordinator, Kenneth Phiri.

Kenneth has been coordinating the tournament since 2005 when it was just a small local tournament with just 32 teams competing. For him, the Selati Cup has not only boosted the game of football but it has launched a number of rising national stars and given a much-needed boost to the people of Nkomazi. Over and above being a great source of affordable entertainment that also keeps youngsters off the streets and inspires them to pursue their own dreams, it has put money in the pockets of the local community who play a key role in hosting the tournament, especially the Cup Final.

For Enocent Mkhabela, the 28-year-old midfielder from Platinum Stars who kicked off his career at the Selati Cup, it’s the community spirit that is the heartbeat of the Selati Cup. He remembers the strong community support that players receive while participating in the Cup, which prepares them mentally to give more of themselves in the game and to keep on persevering no matter what. In this spirit, he encourages all aspiring Selati Cup players to stay disciplined, determined, humble and to play every game like it’s a cup final.

What were the sweet spots for you at this year’s Selati Cup? Let us know! And if you weren’t there, simply follow the Selati Cup Facebook page to get a slice of the action.

The winning Men’s team, Boschfontein FC (top) and the winning Ladies’ team, Super Strikers (bottom) in action