South African university soccer got a major boost on Monday, when the South African Football Association (SAFA) gave its blessing to the launch of the brand-new Varsity Football Challenge.
The inaugural edition of this competition will kick off on campuses around the country on Monday, July 22 Company and SAFA.
SAFA wanted reassurance that the nine-week competition has the backing of University Sports South Africa (USSA) before throwing its weight behind it.
Varsity Football is the latest addition to the popular Varsity Sports initiative, organised by the University Sports Company (a conglomerate of South African universities) and its exclusive service provider, Advent Sport Entertainment and Marketing (Asem). It follows the massive success earlier this year of Varsity Athletics and Varsity Hockey, and that of Varsity 7’s rugby and Varsity Beach Volleyball, which were launched in 2012.
Also in the pipeline is the Varsity Netball series, to commence in September 2013.
The new soccer competition will pit the country’s best male university teams against each other in a format designed to boost the sport at tertiary level and provide a breeding ground for exciting new soccer talent.
Eight universities – the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), the North-West University (Mahikeng campus), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), University of Pretoria (Tuks), University of the Western Cape (UWC), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), University of the Free State (UFS) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) – will take each other on at different campuses on Monday nights, with two matches televised live on Supersport and, following the conclusion of discussions between the University Sports every week. After the conclusion of the round-robin phase the top four teams will move on to semi-finals, with the winners contesting the final to determine the first Varsity Football champion a week later.
“University Sport South Africa (USSA) is delighted that the Varsity Sports Football competitions will kick off on 22 July 2013,” said Prof Tyrone Pretorius, the president of USSA. “ Varsity Sports events are an important facet of student sport development in that more opportunities are provided to student athletes to showcase their talents. USSA is therefore looking forward to closer co-operation with Varsity Sports to ensure that the next generation of student achievers are prepared for participation at the World University Games and Championships.”
SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani described the new competition as “a very exciting initiative”.
“The inaugural Varsity Football competition is set to unearth hidden talents at tertiary level and it carries the full support of SAFA,” Nematandani said. “We are blessed to have so many top universities competing and look forward to the competition growing from strength to strength.
We also await the addition of the women’s version in the near future with great anticipation.”
“We are pleased that the competition will be an inclusive one, extending to all who choose to participate in it,” added Dennis Mumble, SAFA CEO.
Francois Pienaar, the CEO of Asem, said: “We have successfully launched Varsity Athletics, Varsity Hockey, Varsity 7’s rugby and Varsity Beach Volleyball as part of the Varsity Sports stable, and are delighted to add Varsity Football to the stable. Football is the biggest sport in the world and a passion on the African continent. There is little doubt in my mind that working with SAFA, USSA and the participating universities, Varsity Football will unearth future national stars and help build the passion and pride for football in South Africa.”
Varsity Football will initially only include male teams, but a separate challenge for women is in the pipeline, following the progression of the South African women’s student team to the semifinals of the World Student Games in Russia last week.
“This will be a valuable addition to the concept of sport and education for holistic development.
We have now found the missing puzzle for the complete development of the beautiful game in Mzansi,” said Nematandani.
Varsity Football is made possible thanks to the backing of Samsung (who is sponsoring a Varsity Sports event for the first time), First National Bank (FNB), Debonairs and Cell C.
Schedule for Varsity Football:
22 July: 16:30: Wits t NWU (televised); 19:00: UP Tuks vs TUT (televised); 19:00: UWC vs NMMU; 19:00: UFS vs UCT.
29 July: 16:30: UP Tuks vs Wits (TV); 19:00: NWU vs UFS (TV); 19:00: UWC vs TUT; 19:00: UCT vs NMMU.
5 August: 16:30: UFS vs UWC (TV); 19:00: NMMU vs UP Tuks (TV); 19:00: TUT vs NWU; 19:00: UCT vs Wits.
12 August: 16:30: NWU vs NMMU (TV); 19:00: UP Tuks vs UCT (TV); 19:00: TUT vs UFS; 19:00: Wits vs UWC.
19 August: 16:30: TUT vs UCT (TV); 19:00: UWC vs NWU (TV); 19:00: UFS vs UP Tuks; 19:00: NMMU vs Wits.
26 August: 16:30: TUT vs NMMU (TV); 19:00: Wits vs UFS (TV); 19:00: UP Tuks vs UWC; 19:00: NWU vs UCT.
2 September: 16:30: UWC vs UCT (TV); 19:00: TUT vs Wits (TV); 19:00: NWU vs UP Tuks; 19:00: NMMU vs UFS.
9 September: 16:30 & 19:00: Semi-finals.
16 September: 19:00: Final
About ASEM Varsity Sports:
Advent Sport Entertainment and Media (ASEM) was founded by Francois Pienaar in October 2009 and has offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
ASEM Varsity Sports is a wholly owned subsidiary of Advent Sport Entertainment and Media and the exclusive service provider to the University Sports Company (USC) and its participating universities.
ASEM Varsity Sports provides a unique opportunity to connect with the Collegiate community in South Africa through sport and entertainment.
The USC’s main objective is the administration, development, co-ordination and promotion of non-professional sport between the higher education institutions in South Africa. The organisation plays a vital role in connecting operational students, active students and alumni.
Sport remains one of the most powerful marketing platforms. In South Africa sport has been a catalyst for change and nation building in our young democracy.
FOLLOW US ON:
CEO Varsity Sports: Duitser Bosman
Cell no: 083 395 1073