Varsity Football will return for its seventh edition on 26 July, with Thursdays again being the day when new stars, intriguing rivalries and riveting #iyachesa action will emerge.
A look back at the statistical history of the tournament reasserts why it’s developed into a vital step on the South African pyramid; giving – as it does – an opportunity for talented footballers to have a professional experience, while chasing academic goals too.
6 – There have been six seasons of Varsity Football to date. UP-Tuks won the first two editions (2013-14) before adding a third title in 2017. UWC claimed their lone title in 2015, while TUT took the honours in 2016 and last year.
16 – To date, 16 teams have played Varsity Football. UP-Tuks and UWC are the only ever-presents. That said, NWU have always been represented – by NWU Pukke from the Potchefstroom campus in 2015 and NWU Mafikeng in the other five editions.
78 – UP-Tuks and TUT find themselves tied on 78 points on the Varsity Football All-Time Points Table. Both teams have won 23 round robin matches and drawn nine others. UP-Tuks claim first place by virtue of +45 goal difference to TUT’s +39. NWU Mafikeng, thanks to their 17 wins and nine draws for 60 points, sit third on the all-time table.
354 – A total 354 matches have been played in Varsity Football history. Only 88 of those have ended in a draw, though eight of those then resulted in penalty shootouts as they happened in semi-final matches.
0 – No coach has been ever-present in Varsity Football yet, but Bushy Moloi did coach TUT in all five editions they’ve played to date – they failed to qualify for the 2014 edition.
2 – Evangelos Vellios and Bushy Moloi are tied on two titles apiece as coaches. Vellios did so with UP-Tuks in 2013-14, while Moloi joined him thanks to TUT’s wins in 2016 and 2018.
3 – Two players have won three Varsity Football titles. Both Lawrence Ntswane and Richard Moremi were part of UP-Tuks’ winning teams in 2013, 2014 and 2017.
4 – Four captains have lifted the Varsity Football trophy. UP-Tuks’ Kabelo Ramongane did the honours in the first year, while Reon October (UWC, 2015) is the other to have only done so once. Lawrence Ntswane (as stand-in in for Robin Swartz in 2014 and then as full-time captain in 2017) and Elliot Seema (2016 and 2018) have done so multiple times.
7 – Seven goals is the Varsity Football single-season record. Thabo Mnyamane (NWU, 2013) set the bar in the inaugural season and his exploits have been matched by Jacob Hlalele (TUT, 2016), Themba Ndlovu (TUT, 2017) and Odwa Makha (UP-Tuks, 2017).
9 – Hat-tricks have been scored on nine occasions in Varsity Football history. Cloudius Sagandira (NMMU Madibaz, vs UCT) and Thabo Mnyamane (NWU Mafikeng, vs UFS Kovsies) were the first two manage the feet, doing so on the same night back in 2013. They were followed by Tshenolo Machwisa (NWU Mafikeng, vs UCT) in 2014, Mogau Khwinana (UP-Tuks, vs UFH) and Graeme Dor (Wits, vs UP-Tuks) in 2016, Themba Ndlovu (TUT, vs UWC) and Xolisa Makubalo (UWC, vs UJ) in 2017 and Phiwokuhle Mpalala (UWC, vs UL) and Godfrey Mahlale (TUT, vs Wits) last year.
10 – The highest-scoring game in Varsity Football history also produced the biggest winning margin, namely UP-Tuks 9 UFH 1 on 22 August 2016.
12 – The Varsity Football All-Time Top Goalscorer has netted 12 times. That player is Jeremiah Nkwana, who played for UP-Tuks from 2014 to 2018 – when he passed the eligibility age of 25. Behind him, on 11 goals, sits Sandile Mbatha (NWU Mafikeng 2013-14, 2016-17 and Wits 2018) and Phiwokuhle Mpalala (UWC 2014-18), who’ll turned out for CUT this year.
50 (plus) – There have been over 50 Varsity Football graduates go on to play professional football. This number, which grew by 20 in 2018-19 season alone, excludes those who played for a professional club before the advent of the tournament in 2013 or before appearing in it.