The journey for promotion to the most elusive league has begun for clubs playing in the SAB League based in the Gert Sibande Region, Mpumalanga. A total of sixteen (16) clubs in stream A and eighteen (18) clubs in stream B make up the 2018/2019 season of the SAB League. Stream A consist of clubs from Lekwa, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Govern Mbeki and Dipaleseng Local Municipality. Stream B consist of clubs from Chief Albert Luthuli, Msukaligwa and Mkhondo Local Municipality.
The league is divided into stream A&B due to the vastness of the region. The ultimate prize for winning the league is promotion to the ABC Motsepe League (SAFA National 2nd Division). The new season at stream B of the league consist of seasonal clubs, newly promoted and clubs that have bought their way up. Four clubs that completed the top 5 in the log standings last season are favourites to win the 2018/19 league season. Flymingo United FC from Mkhondo finished 3rd last season after spending the majority of the season on top of the log. Breyten Home Sweepers FC put up a late fight for the title to finish second to eventual champions Somhlolo United FC. Manzana FC is one of the clubs expected to fight for the top spot. The club has good players but also have an ace up their sleeve, good muti which they are not shy about using. The rich boys of the league VOC United FC complete the small list of clubs expected to put up a good fight for the stream B league at Gert Sibande SAB Regional League 2018/19 season. The 2017/18 champions Somhlolo United FC is coming back to the SAB League as a development side after they bought an ABC Motsepe League status.
The clubs are clearly not motivated by the prize money at the end of the season but the hunger to succeed. The majority of club owners are partly employed or self employed. It is their passion for taking care of youth that makes it possible to keep the teams in the league.
Seasonal campaigners Stone Breakers FC from Chressiemeer suffered relegation last season after more than ten years in the league. They were together in the relegation place with Arumburg FC from Chief Albert Luthuli who lasted only one season. The longest serving clubs now left will be PR Barcelona FC (Mkhondo) and XI Experience FC (Vaalkop, Manzana). The promoted clubs are Mpumalanga Eagles FC from Msukalidwa LFA and Black Stone FC from Chief Albert Luthuli LFA. Comet Riders FC sold their hard earned status due to financial problems. Their status was bought by a consortium of former and current referees who started a new club known as the The Hammers FC. Passion FC and Typhoon FC are two other clubs that got to the league with money and hands in their pockets and are expected to challenge for the league title this season. The ultimate prize is promotion to the ABC Motsepe League provincial playoffs. The Gert Sibande Region is allocated two slots at the playoffs, equal with Nkangala and Enhlanzeni Regions.
“You see that it is not too much money that clubs get as prizes compared to what they spend.”
There is also prize money to be won at the end of the season for the top 8 teams in the region. The top eight teams are determined by playing positional playoffs featuring the top 4 teams from Stream A&B e.g. The teams finishing at position 1 play each other with the winner taking position 1 and loser taking position 2. The 2nd placed teams also play against each other with the winner taking position three and four for the loser, repeating same process until position 8.
The Gert Sibande Regional League was very happy to share with us details about the prize money shared among the clubs from the two streams of the region. Miss Nomvula Mathebula the Regional Executive Officer of the league appealed to local business people to assist clubs with the running costs of the clubs. “You see that it is not too much money that clubs get as prizes compared to what they spend. Club owners spend money on transport and food during the league season. They also have to buy soccer balls and training equipment. They need all the assistance they could get,” she said. The clubs are clearly not motivated by the prize money at the end of the season but the hunger to succeed. The majority of club owners are partly employed or self employed. It is their passion for taking care of youth that makes it possible to keep the teams in the league. The last season’s top 8 prizes as supplied by the Gert Sibande Regional League were as follows:
1st prize – R13 500
2nd prize – R 9000
3rd prize – R 7000
4th prize – R 6000
5th prize – R 4750
6th prize – R 4500
7th prize – R 4250
8th prize – R 4000