The rural town of Mkhondo started the new football season on a high note with beautiful display of local football talent inspired by the first ever visit by two former professional players. As is now tradition in Mkhondo, the season kicked off with the 7th edition of Vumbuka Trust Cup tournament which played from 3 August ending with the finals on 01 September 2019 featuring six (6) divisions.
Dubbed the biggest tournament in the Gert Sibande Region for having multiple divisions, the cup tournament introduced an under 15 girls division for the 1st time in its seven (7) year history joining under 13 boys, u/15 boys, u/17 boys, senior ladies and promotion league division clubs. The under 15 girls division was won by Harmony Ladies FC defeating Eleven Stars FC 3-0 in the final. Earlier Eleven Stars FC under 13 boys were crowned champions for the first time with a 3-2 win on penalties against Wilverdiend Stars FC.
Another ‘first’ was the visit by former Bafana Bafana, Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United FC player Themba ‘The Rock’ Mnguni and former Moroka Swallows and Supersport United FC midfielder Lawrence Mabona to watch the finals of Vumbuka Trust Cup. The two former professionals who now work with their former clubs academies arrived at the stadium in the company of Vumbuka Trust trustees Mrs Jolly Makorosi and Miss Thuli Ndimande. It was a second time visit to Mkhondo by Lawrence Mabona who had earlier came as a guest speaker at the launch of Vumbuka Trust social responsibility program in April this year. For his second visit he invited Themba Mnguni to come watch the finals at Mandla Magudulela Stadium, Thandukukhanya.
The two gentlemen wasted no time once inside the stadium, they went straight to the grand stands leaving the lavish VIP tent that was reserved for officials and other stakeholders. They watched the under 15 division final between Mara Mara FC vs PR Barcelona FC which ended 0-0. The match was settled on penalties. Mara Mara FC walked away as champions after winning 4-3 on penalties. The two visitors were impressed by two boys from PR Barcelona whom they indicated that they would like them to attend trials in Gauteng.
Hintalo Stars Ladies FC got to keep the bragging rights after dominating the game and winning 2-1 with all three goals scored by national team players.
Mkhondo football was well represented in the under 17 final which pitted traditional rivals Flymingo United FC vs PR Barcelona FC. The football played by the young stars entertained the guests of honour who also identified a couple of players with a potential to make it in the professional ranks. Flymingo United FC were crowned champions after defeating their bitter rivals 2-1.
The 5th final pitted yet again rivals in Losta Stars Ladies FC vs Hintalo Stars FC both teams playing in the Mpumalanga SASOL League. Hintalo Stars FC got to keep the bragging rights after dominating the game and winning 2-1 with all three goals scored by national team players. Hintalo Stars goals were scored by Nelly Gamede who recently received a national team call up to play for Bantwana the national women under 17 team. She was playing as a guest player for Hintalo Stars along with 3 other team mates from Leandra Ladies FC. Losta Stars Ladies goal was scored by Cebelihle Simelane who recently played at the COSAFA u/20 Championship for Basetsana (Women under 20 team) where they finished in 3rd place after being knocked out by Tanzania in the semi finals at Nelson Mandela Bay in August.
Total Football United made history by becoming the first team to defend the Vumbuka Trust Cup when they won 5-4 on penalties against Mara Mara FC in the final. It was a second trophy of the day for coach Thokozani TK Hlatshwayo who also coach the under 17 Flymingo United FC side. The cup final win is also the 3rd trophy for the senior team. They first won the cup in 2015 when they were still known as Flymingo United FC defeating the now defunct Tiger Boys FC 2-1 in the final. The coach also got praise from Lawrence Mabona. “The coach of the green team is doing well and are good at maintaining shape especially when defending,” Lawrence said after the finals.
The two former professional players who now play the role of scouting players participated in the prize giving together with the officials of Vumbuka Trust and Mkhondo LFA. All clubs in the development leagues won themselves match balls and brand new soccer jerseys with the runners up receiving training bibs and match balls. The cash prizes were only reserved for the senior ladies and promotion league teams. The ladies champions Hintalo Stars FC walked away with R4000 cash and a new playing kit. The men walked away with R6000 cash and a brand new kit as well. All division champions got a brand new kit which has been the tradition for the past 7 years of the cup tournament. The future of young people is indeed looking bright with sponsors like the Vumbuka Trust on board.