National First Division outfit Witbank Spurs not happy after being omitted from Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup.
Posted: 28 July 2018 Time: 08:00
Witbank Spurs CEO Freddy Mapulane feels his club is been treated like a stepchild by its own provincial government after they were left out of the Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup.
The Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation will this weekend host the inaugural Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup, where Kaizer Chiefs, Cape Town City, Mbombela United and newboys Spears Of The Nation (formerly known as Acornbush United) have been invited to take part in the one-day tournament.
But Mapulane says with Spurs being the oldest professional club in the province, and having done well in the National First Division last season by finishing fifth on the log, they should be an obvious choice when it comes to such initiatives, as appearance fees paid by the government to the participating clubs might go a long way in helping them.
"No, look we've been ignored for a long time," Mapulane tells KickOff.com.
"We've been ignored from such tournaments. If you can remember kusese nabo [Mpumalanga Black] Aces, these sort of tournaments were organised and they would put Aces, two teams from Swaziland and [Jomo] Cosmos, while we were here. So this thing of including a newly formed team instead of us doesn't surprise us. We've been ignored for quite some time so we are okay with it. We can't force them to feature us.
"Look, on the last tournament that happened last year we questioned that. So the answer we got was they will consider us in the near future. But surprisingly now we are not there. Ja, we are not recognised in this province to speak the truth. We feel like nobody is taking note of us, regardless of what good we are doing.
"First of all, this is not the first time this thing is organised. Not even once ... each and every season it's there. But it's fine ... we can't force our way if they don't want us. Participation fees have already been paid according to the other teams. I personally don't know anything about Spears Of The Nation. Last time I checked there was a story that Acornbush has bought Tshakuma [Tsha Madzivhandila FC], but according to me Acornbush will be playing in the ABC Motsepe League. But now you see you take an ABC Motsepe League team and not NFD teams who the participating fee will boost in the next season. We were hoping they were going to boost us so we can continue where we left off last season, but no, people have their own agendas here."
This website contacted department spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi about the issue.
"Maybe it's Chiefs [who are organising the clubs] but they work together with another company," Nkosi says. "As for us, we are supporting because we have this cultural event of ours, the festival called the Mpumalanga Cultural Experience that is usually held in December. So, as we are growing this festival we are also taking the Macufe concept, hence we entered in this initiative of Kaizer Chiefs.
"We included two teams, we can't include all of them in the same year. As I'm saying, we are still growing this ... Spears of the Nations is Acornbush, it has always been there. We didn't have much of a say in terms of the teams, we only wanted teams from Mpumalanga to be part of this big tournament. There's one we had included but they pulled out. The teams were selected by the whole team that is organising with a recommendation from us as a province.
"The likes of Witbank Spurs will also get their opportunity one day. This is the first time we are doing this, we have never hosted it before. So as a department we couldn't leave an opportunity of hosting Chiefs and Cape Town City, so we decided to put two of our teams. Spears Of The Nation is a team from Mpumalanga, they just changed its name. You will have to speak to the people who chose these teams, but us as a department our input was we have to include teams from Mpumalanga. But the other one pulled out, TS Sporting."
Pressed further on why Spears of the Nation got the nod ahead of Spurs when TS Sporting pulled out of the competition, Nkosi said: "They are in the NFD. It's the former Acornbush, it's not a new team. The aim of the department is to give Mpumalanga teams a platform. We will change them so everybody gets an opportunity."