This Youth Day Engen is celebrating the beautiful game for the many bright futures that football has afforded many of the 30 000-plus players who have participated in the Engen Knockout Challenge, South Africa’s most prestigious youth football initiative which celebrates its 16th anniversary this year. Since 2003 the Engen Knockout Challenge has formed part of Engen’s Youth Development Program. The tournament, which takes place in five provinces across South Africa and culminates in the Engen Champ of Champs, specifically targets players under the age of 18. An incredible 181 Engen Knockout Challenge alumni have gone on to play professional football for top local and overseas teams, including Bafana Bafana captain, Thulani Hlatshwayo who took part in the Engen Knockout Challenge in 2005. Rising star Sipho Mbule, who at just 20 plays for SuperSport United, is another example of the many opportunities that sport offers the young and the talented. Sipho, who grew up in Bethlehem in the Free State, started playing football at a very young age and was immediately hooked. He played in the Engen Knockout Challenge in 2015 and has not looked back. He has this message for South Africa’s youth: “Growing up my family, who are my greatest supporters and inspiration, always told me to keep pushing. I knew that if I kept pushing, better things would come my way.” Sipho also believes that a lot can happen in one year. “If you concentrate on what you really want to do with your life and what you want to achieve, then your dreams will be realised.” In his down time, Sipho visits his family home in Bethlehem where he spends time with his parents and younger brother and sister. Looking ahead, Sipho says he would like to win the league with Supersport United. “We are in the top eight and we need to defend our position. Playing overseas is also one of my dreams.” Another success story is Phakamani Mahlambi, who was spotted by the CEO of The Players Club, Glyn . . .
The Madibaz men's football team will be targeting promotion to the top section when the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament takes place in Port Elizabeth next month. Hosted by Nelson Mandela University from July 2 to 7, the cream of South Africa's men and women varsity footballers will be in action on the various campus fields. Competing in the B section, Madibaz Sport Football manager Mark Tommy said the PE side, who won the title in 2011, had promotion to the A section as their main focus. "Section B consists of four groups of three teams each, which means that Madibaz will have to progress to the knockout stage to have a chance of promotion. "If they are able to achieve that, they will have a good chance of going up because three teams will be promoted and three teams will be relegated." He said the women's team would be seeking a top-10 finish in the A section, having previously produced their best performance in 2010 when they came sixth. As part of the organising committee, Tommy said they were preparing for a huge invasion during the week, with nearly 1 500 players and officials in PE for the tournament. "This is the biggest football tournament to be played in this region and will generate great investment for the city through accommodation and hospitality expenditure. "From a football perspective it will provide the public with an opportunity to witness all the country's top university teams during the week. "We encourage potential students and schoolchildren to come to see the action, which could act as a source of motivation for them to consider their tertiary studying prospects." From a logistics viewpoint, Tommy said a total of 64 teams would be in the city for the week. "The A sections in both the men's and women's tournaments will comprise 20 teams, while there will be 12 teams in each of the men's and women's B sections. "The top eight in the men's A section will qualify for the Varsity Cup . . .
Former road specialist JC Nel is looking forward to testing his skills on the mountain bike when he makes his debut in the Liberty Waterberg Encounter this weekend. The three-day bushveld event, presented by STANLIB, gets under way on Friday at Bela Bela in Limpopo, taking riders through trails which cover part of Sondela Game Reserve and Elements Private Golf Reserve. The 26-year-old Nel, who has retired from professional road-racing, is no stranger to the mountain bike, having often used the discipline to sharpen himself for his road challenges. He initially entered the Waterberg Encounter with the promising Ricardo Broxham, but the latter's selection for the national team to attend the World Junior Track Championships in Switzerland in August altered those plans. "Instead I am now riding with a mate of mine, Manie Visser, and we are looking forward to a serious challenge," said Nel, from Muldersdrift in Gauteng's West Rand. "I believe it will be a tough three days through the bushveld, which will really test our mountain-biking ability." The former ProTouch rider said he had heard a lot about the event and, with ASG Events as the organisers, he was confident it would be a race to remember. "ASG Events know how to present these sorts of races and I am looking forward to that. "In addition, a friend of mine who knows the area quite well told me of the great riding experience you get. "I realise the routes will be challenging, but I have heard about the camaraderie of the event and it should be a special weekend." ASG Events have placed the emphasis on luxury for the competitors, while route director Mel Meyer has set up trails which will offer some hardship, but will be manageable for a wide range of riders. Although he made his name as a road racer, Nel said he had done plenty of time on the mountain bike during his career. "I found that the discipline of mountain-biking helped to keep you in shape and made sure you were sharp . . .
The 50th edition of The Ballito Pro, presented by Billabong, will get the adrenaline pumping with the hottest line-up of extreme sports’ action, all taking place at KwaDukuza from 21 June to 1 July. The collaborative efforts of KwaDukuza Municipality and The Ballito Pro have resulted in an incredible beachside festival that gives the region a chance to show off its natural beauty. The event has grown year-on-year, with holidaymakers getting the chance to take full advantage of our warm, coastal winters as well as a two-week programme of festivities suited to all ages. Collette Bundy, event organiser, said: “We are really going all out for the #LiveTheLegacy festival to mark the milestone instalment of the world’s longest running professional surfing contest. We’ve secured some of the best sports’ stars to perform incredible stunts and are also welcoming The Ballito Downwind, a surfski series, to The Ballito Pro roster which makes for a truly fun spectator event.” Some of the extreme sporting action festival-goers can check out and try out are: Monster Activations – Willard Beach from 28 June to 1 July • The Monster Cash-Up presented by Zigzag This year Monster and Zigzag are coming to the party again and will be rewarding the free surfing that takes place before and after the contest with cold, hard cash. With up to R20 000 to give away throughout the week, Zigzag will be scouting the most explosive surfers and manoeuvres outside of the contest heats, and award the best wave ridden before and after the contest runs. Monster and Zigzag will be giving away R2 000, along with a Groundswell Surf Store voucher, per session to the best wave surfed during the free surf session. • The Monster Expression Session presented by Zigzag The Monster Expression Session presented by Zigzag will once again grab the attention of all the beachgoers on final’s day. Set to go down just before the main event finals - with R30 000 up for grabs - this heat is bound to . . .
A new single-track finish to the opening stage of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter will have the front-runners fully alert when the mountain-bike race gets under way on Friday. Presented by STANLIB, the three-day stage race in Bela Bela, Limpopo, will see the routes taking cyclists through Sondela Nature Reserve and Elements Private Golf Reserve. The stages will cover a total of 172km with 2 774 metres of ascent and route director Mel Meyer has promised a good workout for all riders, but one they will be able to manage. He said they had introduced two changes to the opening stage, which should give the riders something to think about. "On the first day, the route up to the second water point is the same as last year, but then they will experience something new," he said. "We have built a fresh trail of single-track on a 6km section and this is something they will have to work through. "There is a tough little climb, followed by a bit of a scary downhill, which will be virgin trail for them all." With much of the hard work still awaiting the riders over the last 20km, Meyer said they had altered the finish from the tar road of last year to a single-track through Elements Golf Reserve. "This means that the front guys will need to be aware of what is happening because once you get into the single-track with 3km to go there is no way you can do any overtaking," said Meyer. "It's a new section and the guys will have to get into the right position going into it." He added that the second stage was much the same as last year, while they had introduced some changes to the final day's route. "We will be using the single-track we created for the end of stage one, but this time they will be going in the opposite direction, so there will be a bit of a climb early on. "Further on in the route we had some heavy, sandy sections last year, but we have reduced those and the riders will experience some nice, fast-flowing single-track through . . .
The NFB Great Zuurberg Trail Run took place this weekend, and adventure seekers looking to explore the Addo/Zuurberg region enjoyed perfect conditions for the inaugural event. A full field of runners stood on the start line of the exclusive three-day trail run and enjoyed the hand-picked route designed to challenge any runner, with some serious climbs, single tracks and hard-core routes. Speaking about the route, race director Siska van der Bijl remarked: “The route and what we are able to share with athletes is magical, and we’re delighted that everyone enjoyed the region’s trails. This time of year is ideal for stage racing, and we’re delighted the weather played its part in the event’s success.” Support sponsor Merrell, and accommodation sponsor Zuurberg Mountain Inn helped race organisers create a comfortable race village for competitors to unwind after a full day on the trails. Van der Bijl adds, “We’re proud to add a luxurious twist to our events and give our guests a memorable experience.” The NFB Great Zuurberg Trail Run 2019 entries open on July 1st, 2019. Visit www.gztrun.co.za or follow us on Facebook and Instagram, @GZTRun, to find out more and enter. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
The Great Zuurberg Trail Run, the latest addition to the South African trail running calendar, has announced a name sponsor, NFB Private Wealth Management (NFB). NFB is a part of the AltX listed NVest Financial Holdings (NVE) group of companies and has a 32-year track record in providing clients with independent financial advice, and a broad suite of products. Talking about the new partnership, NFB Private Wealth CEO, Mike Estment says: “We believe in endurance and durability, as well as customer care and dedication, so a strong alignment between the two brands exists. In addition to shared values, there are an increasing number of people expanding the attention they pay to financial security, to securing the future of our environment and taking care of themselves, and we want to be part of that investment too. An event like the NFB Great Zuurberg Trail Run forges friendships and assists in upliftment through example and financial investment and we want to be part of that journey (pun intended).” Siska van der Bijl, managing director of Hayterdale Trails, the organiser of the NFB Great Zuurberg Trail Run adds: “The NFB Great Zuurberg Trail Run is set to be one of the most exclusive on the calendar, and we’re delighted to have NFB on board from day one. “As race organisers, we want to have a positive impact on the environment and have our runners leave only footprints, and to play a role in the transformation of sport and assist in the development of previously disadvantaged athletes.” The first ever NFB Great Zuurberg Trail Run begins on June 1st, and sees competitors race 60km over three days in the Addo/Zuurberg region. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
Former University of Johannesburg star Aphiwe Dyantyi is ready to embrace the challenge and to further his rugby career after being chosen for the Springbok squad at the weekend. The lightning Lions wing was named by new South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus in an enlarged Bok squad of 43, which will do duty in the June internationals against United States and England. Born in East London, the 23-year-old, who matriculated at Dale College in King William's Town in 2011, said it was "a massive opportunity" and that he was fully focused on making the most of it. When he joined UJ as a first-year in 2012, the furthest thing from the young student's mind was a full-time rugby career after his game seemed to have stalled at Dale. "I played in all the age-group A teams at Dale and also U13 Craven Week," he said. "But when I got to the open division, I was a year younger than the rest - for example, I was 15 in Grade 10 and 16 in Grade 11. "It was hard for me to crack it and it didn't help that I was small at the time. "But the worst thing for me is that I was not backed by anyone and given the opportunity to show what I could do. "After being used to playing for the A teams, I never got any further and it was something I had to take and to learn from." The outcome was that when he attended UJ in 2012, he had switched his focus to his academic course and only became involved in rugby again when his residence mates persuaded him to help out in the varsity's koshuis league. "I did play a few times, but it was purely for fun," recalled Dyantyi. "But the next thing, UJ asked me if I didn't want to focus more on the game and to try out for the U19s." He said there were a number of key personnel who guided him in his decisions, among them UJ U19 coach Mac Masina and first-team mentor Werner Janse van Rensburg. "The management at UJ was very good, but it still took me a while to warm to the idea. "Eventually I was offered a sports bursary and . . .
Polocrosse fans are in for a weekend of thrilling equestrian action as some of South Africa’s and the world’s highest ranked players are gearing up for the third Land Rover Durban High Goal Polocrosse Tournament, which will take place at the Durban Shongweni Club between the 22nd and 24th June. Running each day between 9am and 4pm, the event will showcase the talents of some of the country’s best polocrosse players. There will be four matches daily, two ladies and two men’s, where world-class equestrian’s displays can be expected from national, as well as international players. Sam Heynes, a member of the Shongweni Polocrosse Committee explained the tournament process; “The High Goal Tournament has eight teams, four men’s and four ladies, which will compete for the top spot. Each team consists of six highly ranked players, each of whom is given a handicap.” Heynes added that the handicap indicated his or her skills level, ranging between 0 (beginner) to 10 (highest ranking). She said that in a high goal competition, the team’s total combined handicap must average at 45 for men and 26 for ladies. Similar to last year’s event, the 2018 edition will feature Wild Card players in both the men’s and ladies categories, who will be auctioned off to the highest bidding team at a special black-tie gala dinner on 20th June. The Wild Card feature creates an aura of surprise, as teams can only be finalised on the eve of the competition. This year’s wildcards are all of South Africa’s top-ranked players, who will be representing the country in next year’s World Cup in Queensland, Australia. Brent Von Benecke, chairman of the Shongweni Polocrosse Club and event organiser said, “This is a premier event on the South African polocrosse calendar, featuring players of international ranking. Spectators are guaranteed an outstanding weekend filled with nail-biting sporting action.” Von Benecke highlighted that each team will feature a Wild Card who is a top-ranked South . . .
If you aren’t already planning to be at the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival from 29 June - 8 July, here are a few ‘tasters’ to entice you to book your holiday now and join us for “the best 10 days of winter”. Flavourful foodie fun Among the more than 100 activities arranged over the 10-day period, a first this year is the “Flavours of Knysna Tour”, a culinary journey to some of the best restaurants in and around Knysna. Taking place on 4 July, you’ll plan your own route using our hop-on-hop-off shuttles to visit some of the best eateries in the area and experience delicious tasters and signature dishes. An exciting competition will also run on the night, where you can cast your vote for your favourite restaurants in various categories. Tickets can be purchased online via Webtickets or at the Money Counter at Pick n Pay stores in Knysna and George. Make sure you don’t miss – space is limited! Date: Wednesday, 4 July 2018 Old favourites, new venues The Knysna Wine Festival may be an institution, but this year’s location on Thesen Island will be a first. Experience the best of South Africa’s wine farms on 2 and 3 July. Tickets cost R150 and including a tasting glass, available at Webtickets. Loerie Park will this year play host to various kiddies’ entertainment options and sporting events such as the Athletics SWD, Oyster Festival rugby, soccer and netball tournaments. The Comedy Festival is always an entertainment highlight and will take place at Mitchell’s Brewery. Don’t miss the chance to see some of SA’s top comedians and other well-known comedy personalities in action. Sport-specific In an exciting development this year, the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour has confirmed that the 115km road race, along with the 80km and 50km mountain bike races will be seeding qualifying events for the 2019 Cape Town Cycle Tour. An e-bike event was introduced last year and will again be on offer, in the form of the 30km Electric Bike MTB race. The Momentum . . .