All systems go for under-10 tourney

Under-10s captains from the various teams taking part in this year's Wynberg St John's junior tourney are ready to battle it out for top honours.

Teams from across the city, representing six different Local Football Associations (LFAs) are gearing up for the 26th edition of the tournament.

And, to make things more competitive, the club has decided to shake things up a bit.

Historically, it has always been an under-9 age division tourney, played on full-sized soccer fields with big goal posts.

But, this year, they changed it to an under-10 format and will use smaller pitches and goal posts.

Tournament chief operations officer, Zane Ryklief, is in his fourth year of running the tournament, and said the changes made are due to the feedback received from various clubs.

Last year’s winning coach, Morgenster United’s, Mehmood Fyzoo, said his boys have looked great this season and are ready to defend their title.

The tournament is made up of 32 teams – divided into eight groups.

The first set of games kick off next week Friday September 30 at 6pm, with the final scheduled for the following Friday at 8pm.

“We decided to change the age division because the South African Football Association (Safa) went back to playing with even numbers,” said Ryklief.

“Last year, we struggled a bit to fill the tournament because teams couldn’t commit to an under-9 division.

“Clubs can now just bring their teams playing in their respective LFA’s to the tournament, instead of trying to make up an under-9 squad.

“We’ve kept the tournament formation at 11 vs 11 but changed the field dimensions and goal post sizes according to Safa standards – made specifically for 10 year olds.

“The teams with bigger and stronger players are more dominant on the big field, but now we’ve levelled the playing field so anyone can win it. Teams who want to play ball can do that and teams who want to play long ball can do so,” he said.

Despite making the smaller fields, they will continue to have the three playing pitches.

The top two teams in each group qualify for the the winners section. And, there’s also a plate and mid section, so there’s more soccer to play for all teams after their group games.

Last year, the Morgie Boys beat Strandfontein AFC 1-0 in the final to lift the cup.

Fyzoo said that all eyes will be on his side and that they need to be sharp from the get-go.

“We basically got the same squad of last year with the addition of two under-8 players.

“I think we are on track and just need to let the boys rest as we get closer to the tournament, because they’ve been playing a lot,” said Fyzoo.

“We are the defending champions so we’ll just need to take it one game at a time.

“We know that a lot of respect will come to us and we can’t let our guard down.

“This season the team performed well. We came close to winning the league and are in the final of the Knockout Cup with Beacon Spurs. All credit is due to Spurs because they’ve been consistent all season,” he said.

While Milano United and FC Kapstadt will look to make their dream debut at the tournament, Morgenster and Beacon Spurs look to be early favourites to lift the cup.

The groups as drawn at the launch of this year’s tournament are as follows:

Group A: Oasis, Rockafellas, Bothasig, FC Kapstadt

Group B: Strandfontein, Leeds Lentegeur, Rygersdal, Devonshire Rovers

Group C: Spenston, Southampton, Westridge, Wynberg St Johns B

Group D: Wynberg St Johns A, Belhar Spurs, Milano, Camps Bay

Group E: Bayhill United, Origan Spurs, Morgenster, Tafelzucht

Group F: Island Rovers, Mowglies, Kenpark, Stephanians

Group G: Meadowridge, Greenwood Athletic, Holy Cross, Noordhoek

Group H: Woodlands, Elsies River, Ashford Athletic, Beacon Spurs