The inaugural Heritage Day Football Tournament, sponsored by Samara Private Game Reserve, took place over two days at the uMasizakhe Soccer Stadium in Graaff-Reinet on 23rd and 24th September 2018.
Anneley Gradwell, Samara Assistant Manager, was instrumental in getting the event off the ground. She explains: ‘The youth of Graaff-Reinet, and of Beyers Naude municipality, need support to see a future for themselves. Too many end up getting involved in drugs and crime because it seems like there is no other option. The tournament was a way of motivating the youth to challenge themselves and think about their reason for being on this earth. Everyone has a purpose – and sport can help to make that purpose clear, as well as keeping them busy after school.’
- ANNELEY GRADWELL, SAMARA ASSISTANT MANAGER
She continues: ‘Samara Private Game Reserve already contributes to the community especially through employment, but Samara’s Director Sarah Tompkins wanted to help more, and I suggested that football could be a good start. I have worked at Samara for 13 years, and Sarah’s support has helped me get from where I was when I started to where I am today. Sarah likes to help people achieve their potential, and I say a very special thank you to her and to Samara for supporting this event.’
The knock-out football tournament brought together 8 teams of boys aged 15 to 30, mainly from the communities of Asherville, Kroonvale and uMasizakhe. The winning team were the Dangerous Darkies who beat the Portical Birds 3-0 in the final after Greg Davids scored two goals in the last five minutes. He was named Man of the Match – an impromptu but deserved accolade. As Anneley puts it, ‘it was not part of the arrangements but if you see someone doing well you must praise and support them.’ Third place was taken by the Morocco Eagles. Each player in the top three teams received a medal. Representatives from Samara (Anneley Gradwell, Julius Mkhize), the mayor’s office (Mr Thembile) and the local soccer club (Mike Majova, Mr Galada) attended the event.
When it comes to the future of the tournament, Anneley is adamant that this is just the beginning. She is passionate about the project and would like to see the event extended beyond football to other sports like netball, and across age groups to include 13 to 15 year-olds. She also hopes to involve schools and eventually the entire Beyers Naude municipality, including those living on farms in the region.
The slogan for the tournament, Masibabanye yeyethu sonke, encapsulates the spirit of the initiative, based on inclusivity and accessibility, hope and opportunity: ‘We must be together, it’s ours’. In other words, the future is ours for the taking if we work together.
Samara Private Game Reserve would like to thank all those who participated, contributed and supported the Heritage Day Football Tournament. We hope to continue this tournament year after year, and look forward to working with other stakeholders to encourage the youth of the region to believe in their future.