UWC Football Club dominated the South African university football games again, when both the women's and men's teams performed brilliantly at the recent University Sport South Africa (USSA) National Club Championships.
The women's team were crowned champions after they beat UP-Tuks 4-1 following a penalty shootout, while the men's team finished third after beating University of Fort Hare (UFH) 5-1 in the third/fourth-place play-off.
The event was held at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein towards the end of March 2016, after it was postponed in December due to university protests. It is an important tournament as it is used as a qualifier for the Varsity Football competition, of which the UWC men's team are defending champions.
In addition to the win, three UWC players were honoured for their sterling performance at the tournament. Attacking midfielder Nelly Mamabolo was chosen as the Player of the Tournament for the second consecutive year, Nhlamulo Mathebula was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament and Janice Smith became the Top Goalscorer with eight goals.
Nathan Peskin, coach of the UWC women's team, commented that there was only one objective when the team set out for Bloemfontein and that was to go and conquer. “Nothing less would be acceptable and nothing less was discussed,” he said. “The team who possessed no shortage of talent and potential had only to apply the necessary focus, discipline, application and execution to be crowned champions.”
Success, although at their first shot for most of the team, meant as much as to any of the older players, Peskin added. “Excitement and tears of joy were shed by them all as emotion spilled over. It’s been a long time coming. The dedication and hard work of all these players and management came together and brought success that had been brewing for the last few years”.
Head coach of the men's team, Salie Adams, found the preparations for the postponed championship challenging. “The timing of the postponed tournament coincided with the players in the squad having other commitments,” he said. “However, all the players performed admirably in all the games. The team never lost a game in the group stages and qualified to participate in the 2016 Varsity Football tournament.”
His team lost 4-3 on penalties in the semifinal to Central University of Technology (CUT) but redeemed themselves by winning the 3rd and 4th play off by beating UFH by 5-1. “Excellent performance by the boys and looking forward to Varsity Football 2016,” Adams added.