By Lunga Kupiso

The South African Football Association launched the 16th edition of the SAB U21 National Championships. The 2016 edition will take place at the University of Limpopo, in the city of Polokwane from the 9th of July – 16th of July 2016.

The launch and group draws of the tournament were held in Johannesburg at South African Breweries World of Beer museum and conference center. SAB is one of the longest serving sponsors of football in South Africa. Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Themba Zwane as well as National Under 20 Head Coach Thabo Senong were in attendance and both are SAB League graduates.

All nine South African provinces will be out to battle for the crown and defending champions Free State will have one more additional team to fend off, if they are to defend their title. The university select side (USSA) will be represented by the “cream of the crop”, players selected from 30 000 players that participate in the SAB League. SAB League will also provide a week’s training to the 20 tournament officials, such as the likes of FIFA referee, Sylvester Ndaba.

Speaking on the refined approach by the SAB League, Head Of Sustainability and Transformation Mpho Sadiki said, “We have been innovative in our commitment to football development with various initiatives such as the SAB League Skills Camps, higher education bursaries and player data monitoring. This is a positive direction that SAB has taken and we look forward to an exciting finale of the season at the National Championships”.

SAFA Chief Executive Dennis Mumble spoke fondly of the partnership between SAFA and the SAB League. Mumble said “The list of players, coaches, match officials and administrators that started their careers at the SAB League is a testament of the fruitful relationship we have had with the SAB,” He also added “Till today, we continue to seeing youngsters emerging from the league, which is a true testament of the great accomplishment by this partnership”.

Mojalefa Selumetse, a beneficiary of the SAB’s latest innovation to the SAB League that sees selected players being afforded an opportunity to pursue a career of their choice at any accredited tertiary institution, is completing his final year at college, and was one of the players that helped Free State win two consecutive SAB U21 National Championships.

“The SAB League has changed my life in a manner that words cannot explain. My talent was discovered through this league and I am now a few months’ away from being a university graduate thanks to the study assistance programme established by SAB. I am looking forward to graduating and becoming an educated professional footballer,” said Selumetse expressing his appreciation to SAB for the significant contribution they have made to his future.