Engen Knockout Challenge kicks off in PE

Now in its 10th year the tournament is being hosted for the fifth time by Glenville Celtic, who are also the defending champions.

Former Nelson Mandela Bay Deputy Mayor and current president of the hosting club, Errol Haynes, said the tournament was not about the prize money.

“It is about creating opportunities for our youngsters, who are mostly from previously disadvantaged areas. In addition to the Engen tournament we have been running a junior tournament for kids from Under-9 to Under-19 during the winter school holidays,” Haynes said.

“Glenville is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and we have a proud history of developing young players.

“Elrio van Heerden and Daine Klate have gone on to represent the country from our dusty streets. Jemaine Christian, Bassie Seagulls and Nyro Ngwenya have all represented the national Under-21 team.

“The tournament director’s daughter, Kaylin Swart (18), is the Banyana Banyana goalkeeper. The second-year university student is currently in Russia at the World Student Games.”

Elroy Swart, who is in his second year as Tournament Director, said Glenville was one of only two amateur clubs (the other Grey College in Bloemfontein) organizing the five Engen tournaments countrywide – the others in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg are organized by PSL clubs.

“As this is a triple celebration – the 10th Engen tournament, the 5th year of our association with the tournament and our 40th anniversary - we are planning a bumper tournament, even for the spectators,” Swart said.

“During the course of the weekend we will be selecting 10 spectators who have supported their teams through thick and thin, and during the finals they will be given VIP treatment as guests of the sponsors.”

In her keynote address, Cindy Kotyi - Engen Corporate Social Investments coordinator - said the company was passionate about youth development and saw the tournament as an opportunity for the youngsters to grow holistically.

“At each tournament we will be selecting one boy who will be taken to the High Performance Centre in Pretoria where he will be able to live out his dream as a professional players even if it for just a few days,” Kotyi said.

“During their stay they will experience what it is like to live the life of a professional footballer. Their programme will include activities such as Sport Science Training, technical sessions, bleep tests, psychology talks and many other activities that will be beneficial to their growth as footballers.”

Meanwhile Safa Nelson Mandela Bay President, Mzimkhulku Fina, said: “We may not have a professional team in the Eastern Cape but there is an abundance of talent. Many youngsters from this tournament have gone on to greater things.”

Tournament Breakdown:

Group A: Glenville Celtic, City Lads, Young Callies, Cradock Young Stars
Group B: Zwide Celtic, Thornhill United, Island City Real Stars, Molly Blackburn High School
Group C: Mabayibone Young Stars, Riverside, Vuyselela, Ebenezer
Group D: Subs, Motherwell Academy, Shining Stars, Victoria Park High School