The Northern Areas Football Association and SPAR Eastern Cape have joined forces to add a fresh dimension to the 43rd Nafa Easter tournament that takes place in Port Elizabeth from March 25 to 28.
In coming on board for the first time, SPAR are fulfilling a commitment to support the community in a tournament which was established in 1973, with 16 teams, and has grown to include 78 teams in the men’s, women’s and junior categories.
At the launch, tournament director Valentine Brink said they were very happy to have the retailer as their sponsors for the first time.
“We are certainly hoping to make this a long-term partnership and we are all set for another top-class weekend of soccer,” said Brink.
SPAR marketing director Abri Swart said they were keen to back the Easter event as part of their ongoing commitment to support the community.
“We have received fantastic feedback about the tournament and we are hoping to add value to what already exists.”
The sponsors also want to provide a boost for junior players to get them involved in sporting activity, and this is reflected in the fact that 46 teams have entered.
“We were introduced to the tournament by Gelvandale SUPERSPAR owner Craig Herman and, being a community brand, we felt we needed to get behind the tournament and the community,” said Swart.
“With the problems schools have been facing with a certain amount of violence, we want to try to get the kids off the street and give them a chance to be part of this.”
Champions Shamrocks will be back to defend their title, but Brink said he expected the tournament to be wide open, with a number of sides capable of figuring in the final reckoning.
Besides the juniors, 28 teams will contest the men’s competition, and there are four sides in the women’s section.
Brink was the brainchild behind the tournament after he attended a similar event hosted by Callies in Durban in the 1970s.
“When I saw that concept, I said we needed the same in PE and in 1973 we held the first tournament, organised by Blackpool, at the Adcock Stadium.”
The growth of the event has seen it move to Gelvandale, with the Gelvandale Stadium, the Gelvan Sports Fields and the Glenville ground being used to host the matches.
The organisation was taken over by Nafa and they have maintained a strong festival theme.
“Traditionally it’s been held over the Easter weekend and we start the matches on Friday morning,” said Brink.
“At 6pm we stop the action for a parade of all the teams, performances by various artists and a fireworks display.
“So there is a lot of fun for everyone, and then the main game is played at 9.30pm.
“We urge the public to support the event, for the community to come together to forget their problems and to enjoy the festivities and the soccer.”
For more information, find SPAR in Action on Facebook.