FIFPro Division Africa held its first tournament for out-of-contract players in Johannesburg on 15-16 July. The successful event saw players from Botswana (FUB), DR Congo (UFC), Zimbabwe (FUZ) and South Africa (SAFPU) take part.
As well as hosting and organising the competition, SAFPU also won the inaugural Paul Gundani Challenge Trophy, named after the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe players' union who passed away in late 2015.
The two-day tournament, held at Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg, was contested by 64 professional players (16 per union). Their performances on the pitch proved that, while they may be down on their luck at present, they certainly have plenty more to give in their careers.
“We know this already, of course,” explained Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe, Secretary General of SAFPU. “But these players need more opportunities to showcase their abilities. That’s why this Division Africa initiative was warmly received by the four participating nations. Ultimately, as unions, it’s our job to help and support our players – including during times of hardship.”
The tournament was an organisational challenge, arranged with just a few months’ notice. Nothing could be left to chance.
“I think we did a good job,” added Gaoshubelwe. “From what we’ve heard, the organisation was flawless. But that’s not what’s really important here. The players gave their all, and we want to see them offered contracts. There were seven South African clubs at the event, including five elite teams, and around a dozen agents and scouts. We’d like to think the tournament met its goals, although we can always hope for better. Some players have been contacted directly since the event, which is a good start. But we’ll leave the champagne on ice until they put pen to paper. Nothing is set in stone until the contracts are signed.”
“We’ll have to see what comes of this,” said Stéphane Burchkalter, Secretary General of FIFPro Division Africa. “But we can already be proud of the hard work that the four unions put in to make this tournament a success. This was the first competition of its kind in Africa, and they were absolutely determined to make it work from the outset. It’s a great example of teamwork – exactly the kind of thing we want to see more of in our Division. Given Africa’s size, we need to get the regional organisations involved, too."
" I want to pay tribute to Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe and to everyone at SAFPU for their sterling work in organising this event. It was a mammoth task. Our player members expected nothing but professionalism, and SAFPU stepped up to the plate admirably. In his closing address to participants, SAFPU’s new President Tebogo Monyai also made it clear that the tournament – the first of its kind in Africa – had been a resounding success.”
Dobsonville Stadium, Johannesburg
Friday 15 July
FUB-FUZ 1-1 (FUB won 4-2 on penalties)
Saturday 16 July
Third place playoff: FUZ-UFC 4-0
Final: SAFPU–FUB 1-1 (SAFPU won 4-2 on penalties)
Player of the tournament
Monageng Thaele (Botswana).
- Published: 21 July 2016