Discovery and the South African Football Association (SAFA) have partnered once again for the Discovery Walter Sisulu Soccer Challenge. Hosted at Soweto’s newly renovated Nike Football Training Centre, recently renamed Shapa Soweto, the grassroots diski tournament will be a feisty football affair.
It will ignite the beautiful game in our treasured SA township, and despite the limited number of spectators allowed, will be loud and proud. Open to local U17’s as well as Senior Men and Women’s teams, and all necessary COVID-19 protocols in place, the tournament will awaken Soweto’s soccer giants come 8 December 2021.
Established in 2002, the 120-team football tournament is an example of the use of sport for good, so says Head of Vitality Wellness at Discovery Vitality, Dr Mosima Mabunda. “Events such as these are part of Vitality’s global pledge to make 100 million people 20% more active by 2025,” she says.
“Early in 2020, we were forced to pause sport: clear the pitches and abandon the goalposts. Two years on and we’re ready to bring this fabulous football festival back to the people of Soweto – but, with one caveat – all spectators will need to be vaccinated,” says Dr Mabunda.
“Live sport provides a vehicle through which we can encourage vaccination and further reaffirms Discovery’s purpose of being a force for social good as we strive for team sports once more. For this reason, the 2021 tournament edition will be as important off the field as on, in the endeavour to fully vaccinate our Rainbow Nation,” she says.
Phil Mogodi, president of SAFA Johannesburg (Soweto Local Football Association), encourages vaccinated fans to join the event, which boasts the cream of SA soccer talent, including Sibusiso Vilakazi, Percy Tau, Keagan Dolly and Lyle Foster. He says it is Discovery’s long-lasting partnership with the LFA that has ensured the tournament continues to thrive.
“We’re both grateful and excited that this tournament will go ahead. In terms of a players footballing journey, the three week round robin tournament provides each player with a once in a lifetime experience – you can literally see the growth of a player from the starting whistle to the final handshakes. On a personal level, I cannot wait to get started: The people of Soweto are hungry to get going once more and play with passion and pride for sure!”