The 20th Anniversary of the South African Municipal Sports & Recreation Association (SAMSRA) Games ended with Mkhondo Local Municipality winning 2-1 in the final against Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality in a tightly contested football match final. The exciting duel between Mpumalanga and the Free State provided an exciting finish to the games. A total of 42 local and district municipalities were involved in the games whose objective is to promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute to the general wellness of municipal employees. The sporting codes were Soccer, Netball, Volleyball, Tennis, Table Tennis, Pool/Snooker and Tug of War. The games played on 23-27 September 2019 at Hoy Park Baseball & Recreational Centre in Durban, KZN.
The Mkhondo Local Municipality Volleyball team played for dear life determined to do better than in previous occasions of the games where they had failed to progress to the knockout stages. Their determination pushed them further up to the final of the games against Emalahleni Local Municipality with good performances. The team was unfortunate to lose two players who could not participate in the final due to injuries. As a result the team were a no match for the Emalahleni side who won the final game with 2 sets to 1. The women’s final was played between Thembisile Hani Local Municipality vs Greater Tzaneen District Municipality. Thembisile Hani emerged as the champions winning by a convincing 2 sets to one to lift the Volleyball trophy in the females division.
The towering ladies of Buffalo City were no match for anyone in the tournament, they were simply fitter than most of the teams.
Netball was dominated by the mighty Buffalo City Local Municipality ladies who destroyed every team on their road to the final including a 47-1 drubbing of the fancied Mkhondo in the last 16. The towering ladies of Buffalo City were no match for anyone in the tournament, they were simply fitter than most of the teams. They got their real challenge in the semi final game against Greater Tzaneen but even that match lasted for the quarters 1&2 before they dominated the game in the last two quarters ending the match 39-7. In the other semi final Nkangala District Municipality played their hearts out in front off their Executive Mayor Hon Cllr. TS Masilela who came to support her team. They beat Mogalakwena Local Municipality by 35-25 to set up the final with the mighty and tall Buffalo City ladies. Just like in the semi final the Buffalo City ladies played at slow tempo in the first two quarters before going all out in the last two which they dominated. Their opponents Nkangala put up a brave fight against their Eastern Cape counterparts losing the final 39-15. Buffalo City lifted the trophy and promised to defend it again next year in Kimberly, Northern Cape.
On the battle of strong women and men of ‘Tug of War’ the battle was between three Mpumalanga teams after the elimination rounds left the top three teams to battle it out for the championship. The top three had 2018 champions Mkhondo Local Municipality, the 2017 champions Emalahleni Local Municipality and the 2019 regional runners up Gert Sibande District Municipality. Gert Sibande District Municipality triumphed over Mkhondo winning 2-1 in what was the toughest match of the tournament. They then met Emalahleni in the final winning 2-0 without much effort to be crowned the 2019 champions of Tug of War.
The Mkhondo soccer team were also the most determined side which wanted to win at all cost so as to impress their principals back at home. The team were not deterred by their F grade accommodation and strange food because of the determination to win the tournament for the first time ever after failing on two occasions in Rustenburg in the North West province (2017) and Emalahleni, Mpumalanga last year. They played with their hearts out from the beginning of the tournament on Monday 23 September 2019 where they played the first match against Modimolle Local Municipality beating them 2-1 at King Zwelithini Stadium. The team did not have a match on Tuesday 24 September 2019 because King Zwelithini Stadium was hosting the PSL match between Amazulu FC vs Kaizer Chiefs. They went to train at the beach in the morning before going for a swim while singing victory songs which were joined on other beach goers and onlookers looked in amazement.
Mkhondo players were pumped up by the shot arrival of their Executive Mayor the Honourable Vusi ‘Sgemegeme’ Motha who had come to watch the final. The executive mayor did not stay long as he had to rush back to Mkhondo soon after the first goal, he may have delivered the muti who knows?
The following day the team played against Kgetleng Local Municipality where they came from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 draw. In the last game they played against a tough King Sabatha Dalindyebo Local Municipality which they beat 2-1 to qualify for the knockout stages. They met and easily defeated Capricorn District Municipality 6-0 in the last 16 round before playing their toughest match of the tournament against KSD Local Municipality, a team they had earlier met in the group stages. The match was so tough that there was almost a brawl between the benches of the two teams during the game. The match finished 1-0 to Mkhondo knocking out the Eastern Cape side in the quarter finals.
The semi finals and final took place on Friday 27 September 2019 both matches played at Hoy Park. It was a walk in the park for the Mpumalanga based Mkhondo Local Municipality winning 5-0 against Ditsobotla Local Municipality setting up a mouth-watering final against Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality who beat Lephalale Local Municipality 1-0 in the other semi final. The final was a battle between a Local Municipality vs a District Municipality and Mpumalanga vs Free State provinces.
The more determined and hungrier Mkhondo Local Municipality won the toss and decided to play against the wind in the 1st half. Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality could not use the wind advantage in the first half to score as they were tightly marked by their opponents. The match finished 0-0 in the first half. When the match resumed in the 2nd half Mkhondo players were pumped up by the shot arrival of their Executive Mayor the Honourable Vusi ‘Sgemegeme’ Motha who had come to watch the final. The executive mayor did not stay long as he had to rush back to Mkhondo soon after the first goal, he may have delivered the muti who knows?
Mkhondo opened the scoring via a well taken long range shot by Nkululeko ‘Maphike’ Sukazi after Andile ‘Repza’ Thwala scooped the ball for him on top of the centre line. The keeper fumbled the ball into the net. A few minutes later Thabo Mofutsanyana received a corner kick which was also fumbled into the net by the Mkhondo keeper Nhlanhla Maseko for the equaliser. However Mkhondo kept control of the match with wind also at their advantage. They got the winning goal through a well taken header by a substitute striker Andile ‘Repza’Thwala in the dying moments of the game from a corner kick. Andile connected with a well taken corner kick from Thembezakhe Charcy Mntambo sending everyone from the Mpumalanga province in wild celebrations. Mpumalanga ruled in the 20th edition of the games.