Limpopo’s agri-workers ended the year with a bang during Game of Stars, the much-anticipated annual soccer final hosted by Agri Limpopo and the Mark Fish Foundation. No less than ten participating teams, representing different agri-businesses, swopped their farm clothes for soccer kits during the finals hosted in Tzaneen, Limpopo.
Hoedspruit’s Richmond Kopano Farming, which leases and operates the Richmond farm from the Moletele Community, scored a massive 36 goals and walked away with the top honours, much to the delight of the spectators.
The top competing teams included Mockford Farms from Capricorn, Maroi Boerdery from Vhembe, De Wagendrift and HN Pieterse from Sekhukhune. The Mopani East region was represented by Richmond Kopano and the Landman Group, whilst Mopani West included two teams from Westfalia Fruit Estate as well as Laeveld Sitrus.
Game of Stars was initiated by Orlando Pirates legend Mark Fish to give agri-workers a chance to showcase their soccer talent. According to the Mark Fish Foundation the tournament specifically develops agri-workers and rural schools through sport. It also bridges cultural and societal divides, and aims to reduce attacks and crime on farms.
The tournament is played with the FastFooty format, which is an 11 vs 11 T20 style football aimed at speeding up the game and getting players to think and communicate strategically. The teams’ coaches reported that since they started playing this format their team’s performance in their communities showed marked improvement.
Four players were awarded with a rising crystal star trophy:
- Best goalkeeper: Kenneth Mafogo (Richmond Kopano),
- Best defender:Alick Phiri (Maroi Boerdery),
- Best Midfielder: Stanley Kwinika (Maroi Boerdery), and
- Top goal scorer & overall best player: Orphan Mahlako (Richmond Kopano).
Fish, who is a retired Bafana Bafana player, was impressed with the quality of football he witnessed during the tournament. He adds that there was a marked improvement of quality compared to the district play-offs earlier this year. The initiative trained 72 male and two female farm team coaches and got farmers involved with their teams to upgrade their kits and also participate as spectators.
According to the foundation the tournament will be expanded to include more farms, more frequent tournaments and intensified coaching and skills clinics. Fish says he is especially looking forward to growing the tournament to include youth teams (under 15 and under 17) focusing on farm and rural community schools. He is positive that the foundation’s initiatives among rural communities will unearth a few future Bafana Bafana players.