By Chris Totobela
The Makana LFA Juniors League is in full swing and the Extension Seven-based Makana Tigers are slowly finding their feet. Playing under the guidance of football legend and Makana Citizens’ Front (MCF) councillor Thandisizwe Matebese, the Makana Tigers are slowly claiming their place in the local football scene.
Both his under-13s and under-15s have done well since the beginning of the season. Over the weekend of 30 September and 1 November, the u-15s thrashed Joza Callies 10-0, while the u-13s won both of their games.
Matebese told Grocott’s Mail he was happy with his boys’s progress. “We started off very slowly but we are slowly getting better. There is still a lot of work to be done. Our main priority is to take these boys off the streets and teach them the proper way of playing football. Winning the league is the last thing on our minds right now”, he said.
Matebese also told Grocott’s Mail about the challenges that his side has faced since the beginning of the season. “The first challenge is the field. We share the same field with the first-division teams as Dlepu is still closed. Secondly, we do not have any referees and this forces players to officiate each other’s games. The major problem that is going to kill this league is age cheating as some coaches want to win at all costs”, he said.
The issue of the field will be sorted as soon as JD Dlepu is available for use. But Matebese said the difficulties facing Junior Football Leagues don’t stop there. Age-cheating is another problem and the LFA should work with schools in order to verify the players’ correct ages, he said. He appealed to the authorities to please assign somebody to monitor this league and make it easier to deal with the irregularities that often happen. Matebese also believes that whoever wins the respective Junior Leagues will not get the credit they deserve as they would have done that amid a plethora of age-cheating accusations.
This is not the first time that these concerns have been raised – speaking to Grocott’s Mail a few months ago, Makana LFA Head of Competitions, Akhona Heshu, said the LFA had limited powers to prevent age cheating and it was the coaches and team managers who needed to be at the forefront of preventing older players from joining younger teams. Heshu said it was the coaches and team managers who selected players even though they were fully aware that the players were much older than the division they were selected for, and the LFA could not take the blame for that.
On the issue of referees, Heshu once acknowledged the problem which was a good sign of good leadership, and said this was not just a local problem but a national crisis. For example, the DSTV premiership at the moment is plagued by much dissatisfaction directed towards the men in the middle which proves that the country has a problem in this department.
Despite all these setbacks, people like Matebese need to be applauded for the good work they are doing in the community. Makana Tigers is one of the few honest teams that are not tempted to be involved in age cheating and we need to commend them for upholding their high values and promoting fair play at all times.