Kings Of UWC Football: The Money Team Takes The Title - And The Money
FC TMT - ‘The Money Team’ - proved themselves well-named when they they took top spot - and R10 000 in prize money - in the 9th annual alumni/student Kings of UWC Five-A-Side Football Tournament staged at the University of the Western Cape on 10 September 2017.
As one of 16 teams that had signed up for the tournament, TMT - ie ‘The Money Team’ - had high hopes right from the start, partly because they regularly play five-a-side football together, and therefore came to the tournament as a settled team.
“I thought we had a good chance of winning because I believe in my team, and we have a good squad,” explains captain Caleb Kellerman, a final-year BCom Law student at UWC.
That team dynamic and confidence paid off in the final, as TMT cruised to a convincing 3-0 victory over another of the competition’s early favourites, Los Blancos.
Not only did TMT bag the prize money and winners’ medals, but they also made a clean sweep of the awards on offer.
Chad Roman received the Lyle ‘Lallo’ Arendse Man of the Tournament Award, while Jehanno Fransman won the Kyle ‘Kabamba’ Lawrence Defender of the Tournament Award.
The awards are named in honour of two beloved alumni, now both deceased, who played key roles in getting Kings of UWC off the ground in the late 2000s.
Back then, the tournament was an informal competition between football-mad students playing on ‘The Dell’, the patch of lawn at the back of the UWC cafeteria, explains competition founders Remo Andrews and Hilton Stroud.
“It was just guys hooked on football who wanted to find out who’s the best on campus,” says Stroud.
But Andrews and Stroud - respectively UWC employee/alum and student - decided to formalise and expand the tournament.
They approached what’s now the Department for Institutional Advancement who agreed to throw the institution’s weight behind the event. In 2009, the Kings of UWC tournament was officially established.
(Aptly, that inaugural event was won by a team of alumni known as The Originals.)
Nearly a decade later, the tournament has grown in size and stature.
Among other things, the tournament was moved from a Thursday to a Sunday - so players no longer have to skip or run to classes. It was relocated from the Dell to the Liberty Sports Field, where four games can run concurrently. And teams can now conveniently register online. In addition, the prize money has grown dramatically; in its formative years, teams had each paid a R50 registration fee, with the winners taking it all.
And if the football has always been competitive, the teams - made up largely of students and alumni - have certainly lifted their game as well.
“We’ve had some strong teams here before,” says Andrews, “but, football-wise, last year and this year have been the strongest.”
The tournament has also grown in popularity among students.
“There’s a social aspect, as you’re getting to meet fellow alumni,” says Lyle Livenal, BCom Honours student and captain of Boca Juniors, a team that made their Kings of UWC debut this year and looked like one of the early favourites, but were knocked out in the quarter-finals. “But it’s played in good spirit, and it’s also organised really well.”
Giving Back, Growing Forward
The tournament has now been incorporated into UWC’s Access to Success Fund, with registration fees going towards this University-wide fundraising campaign that supports deserving students who face tough financial challenges,
But there are also advantages for the University’s students and its alumni, as Patricia Lawrence, Director: Institutional Advancement at UWC, explains.
“The event serves as an opportunity for alumni to stay connected to the University, and it creates a platform for current students to play soccer against past students, but also to network.”
For all its success, Andrews and Stroud imagine a few more improvements for the tournament.
They would like to see a women’s event as well, building on the strong performance of the UWC women’s football team. They also want to create a child-friendly family spectacle that more students and older alumni - especially those no longer in footballing shape, perhaps - would come and watch.
“We’d like it to grow into something that celebrates the connection between generations,” says Stroud. “We want it to become a true festival of football.”