It was a superb showing by the U13 Buffalo City team at the annual Bill Stewart U13 interprovincial soccer tournament last week as they did the region proud by finishing as runners-up in the very competitive event.
The team were just beaten to the title by the four-time defending champion Southerns team, who have dominated this tournament over the last few years and continued to do so with another title, but it was the impressive effort of the Buffalo City team that should be remembered.
It was the best showing from a team from the region since 2012 when they finished fourth and 2011 when they were also runner-up.
“It was an unbelievable performance from our boys,” said Buffalo City U13 coach Deeran Govind.
“The team was consistent with a really strong defence and that saw us finish as the team to concede the least goals at the tournament.
“I would like to thank our sponsors McDonalds Amalinda, Buco Hardware, Caltex, the Department of Sport and Mr Nathan Carr for their important contributions, without which we would not have been able to make this journey.
“I would also like to thank the East London schools football association for all of their hard work.”
The action took place at Camp Discovery in Limpopo, with the Northern Province Schools Football Association hosting this year’s tournament which saw 20 teams from around the country come to take part in.
In the opening phase, the Buffalo City team were drawn in pool B, along with eventual champs Southerns.
Some strong performances were put in by the team to see them win six, draw two and lost just one of their nine matches to finish second in the pool behind Southerns who won seven games and drew two.
This saw Buffalo City qualify for the top five phase of the competition to be battled out over two days along with Southerns, Easterns, Johannesburg (JHB) and Pretoria.
They then started with a nil-all draw against Easterns, before beating JHB 1-0, which left them second at the end of the first day, equal on four points with Easterns, who had played three games, and two points behind Southerns who won both their matches.
This made the match between Buffalo City and Southerns on day two a very important one and although the team gave their all they were unable to match the defending champs who won 2-0.
Their last game was then a 0-0 draw against Pretoria, which meant they finished on equal points with Easterns but ahead on goal difference to claim the runners-up spot.
Joell Abrahams, Sachin Swanepoel and Ethan Windvogel were then rewarded for their top performances by being selected in the All Star team of the tournament.
“Ethan Windvogel and Zozibini Makulupala also caught the eye of the Sundowns Academy scouts and they will be contacting me some time to set up trials,” said Govind.
Another team from the region, the Aloes, also took part in the tournament and although not faring as well, they proved to be one of the most entertaining teams on show.
After being drawn in pool A they won two games, lost five and drew two, which saw them drop into the 11th to 15th place pool.
Here they lost to Wits 2-1, drew 2-2 with East Rand and 3-3 with KZN Impi and then lost 2-0 to KZN Warriors which meant they finished in 15th place.