By Chris Totobela
On Youth Day (June 16), Jacaranda Aces hosted a netball tournament in Joza, Makhanda as part of the country-wide Youth Day celebrations. There were six under-19 teams, four senior teams, and four male teams that took part in this event held at the Joza Indoor Sports Centre. A decent crowd turned out and was entertained all day by the enthusiastic players who showed their talent and skills on the day. There were some very exciting encounters and in the under-19 section, Leicester City edged out Stallions in a thrill-a-minute game that got the crowd clapping throughout the game by six goals to five. In the seniors’ section, hosts Jacaranda Aces eased past East Cape Midlands College by 19-0 in the group stages.
After all the group stages’ games were done and dusted, it was time for the final showdown of all the sections. In the under-19 final Yent beat Jacaranda Aces by 21-17 and in the seniors final Jacaranda Aces eased past Leicester City by 21-5. In the males final that got the crowd on their feet hosts Jacaranda Aces clashed with Somerset East-based Sarah Baartman district champions Devitels. Both teams started the game like a house on fire and played at a blistering pace. It was an end-to-end stuff and the empires had their hands full as both teams argued every call against them. The first quarter ended with both teams tied at 3-3.
Devitels turned up the heat in the second quarter and forced the home side to commit unnecessary errors and punished them and ended the second quarter with an 8-6 lead. In the third quarter, the home side tried to fight back but Lady Luck deserted them as they fumbled when it mattered most and finished the quarter 8-11 behind.
The fourth and final quarter was electrifying as both teams went for broke. The home side seemed to rush things and made a lot of mistakes, the score was 13 – 11 with few minutes to go when the home side squandered three clear goal-scoring opportunities that could have easily clinched the game for them. They kept the tired-looking Devitels deep in their half but failed to punish them and were made to pay when they conceded a last-minute goal that ended the game at 14-11 in favour of the Devitels team.
What a game it was, a good spectacle for the fans, and both teams received a standing ovation from the crowd for their efforts. Devitels’ coach Thuleka Vusani was so happy for her side. “This was a very tough game as we expected and my players tried their best. This was a very good tournament to test our team and we trained very hard for it as we always do for all our games. In the end, we showed why we are the district champions but credit must go to the opponents for pushing us,” she said.
Jacaranda Aces’ coach, Alutha Ngqoyiya, said she believed her charges could have done better. “My players did not follow my instructions. I told them not to rush things because our opponents like to play a fast game. I told them to slow down the pace of the game but instead, they got carried away and played straight into the opponents’ hands. We will go back to training and rectify these mistakes. I’m so proud of them. They really played well in this tournament,” she said.
Tournament organiser, Asanda Koliti, thanked all the participants and congratulated the winners. He also thanked the fans who braved the cold weather to come out and support the youth on their day.