Round one of the third edition of Varsity Football kicked off this week. Eight universities are taking part in this year’s edition of the competition.
The tournament is run by Varsity Sports South Africa, and is endorsed by the South African Football Association and University Sport South Africa. The football tournament is widely supported by the South African football fraternity. The fraternity has showered Varsity Football with praise, with prominent figures in local football giving the concept a thumbs up. According to Varsity Sports Varsity Football received a resounding stamp of approval from former Bafana Bafana defender Matthew Booth, who attended his first live game since the inception of the tournament.
In 2013, the inaugural season of Varsity Football saw 8 team in the men’s tournament. A four team women’s tournament.
In 2015, the tournament features eight teams namely NMMU Madibaz, Wits, UP-Tuks, TUT, VUT, UWC, with WSU and NWU Pukke making their debuts. Qualification was based on the 2014 University Sports South Africa National Club Championships. In order to qualify, men’s teams need to be one of the eight highest placed teams associated with Varsity Sports. 17 of the 31 matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport 210 and 204.
In the first round of the 10 week tournament only one of the four matches had a result, debutants Walter Sisulu University Football defeated North West University Football by 3 goals to 2. The NMMU Madibaz, who make up the pair from the Eastern Cape have taken part in the tournament since its inception. All the other matches ended in a goalless draw.
According to Soccer Laduma, Former Chippa United defender Marshall Jansen says that the level of Varsity Football is very close to that of the National First Division. Jansen put his studies on hold when he signed with Chippa and has since returned to the university to pursue a nursing qualification. He played his first Varsity Football match on Monday in the goalless opening game against Wits, and says that the level reminded him of his time with Chippa.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt was impressed with the level of football he watched at the Wits stadium in the opening Varsity Football match on Monday. The two times SA football coach of the year, who won three Premier Soccer League titles, is looking to sign a young player from the tournament.
Shaun Bartlett also discovered at a youth tournament, says the competition provides great exposure for up and coming footballers. Bartlett won the African Nations Cup with Bafana Bafana in 1996.
In Round Two next Monday, the Madibaz take on the University of the Witwatersrand at the Wits Stadium in Johannesburg at 6pm. UWC Football face the defending champions UP Tuks, TUT face the current log leaders WSU and lastly VUT face NWU.
After the opening round of the tournament, excitement is growing, with support forever increasing from the home fans.