Thembeka Ngwenya

Maties res soccer provides a platform for male and female residences/PSOs at Stellenbosch University (SU) to play against each other and develop players’ potential. This is one of the benefits of the residence soccer league, said Ellroy Smith, Maties Football coordinator.

The league consists of two categories, namely: the women’s 5-a-side and the men’s 11-a-side, which is further divided into the super league (top league) and premier league (second division).

The year started off with the launch of the knockout tournament which resulted in Huis Marais men’s team and Medics women’s team claiming the title of the 2018 knockout champions.
“We might not have been the best ball-playing team in the final, but our determination to win ensured that we won,” said Kyle McKinnon, Huis Marais captain, after they beat Huis Visser.  “Our goal for the rest of the season is to be in the top four because it is our first season in the A league,” said McKinnon.

He elaborated that it would be gratifying for them to win the league, and their 3-0 victory against Huis Visser gives them a head start.

The Medics women’s team has been creating quite the storm for the past few years by continuously landing themselves in the finals and claiming the title. They demonstrated formidable skill during the knockout tournament.

They played against Minerva for the first time in the finals, who was only able to hold the game down to the final score of 7-4. Zander Biyo, the captain of Medics, said that their coach, Lwazi Batala, deserves credit for the role he played in their success.

“He is nothing short of amazing and we really love working with him. We definitely wouldn’t be where we are without him. Although we’ve come a long way as a team, we definitely still have a lot of work to do. We look forward to the rest of the season and wish everyone the best of luck,” explained Biyo.

The league, however, doesn’t come without its challenges and disadvantages, more so during this drought-stricken season, where all the fields are prohibited from use. This has placed pressure on the committee in terms of all the teams playing on only one astro field for the men and one for the ladies while accommodating the Maties Football Club training sessions.

The women’s 5-a-side games frequently experience issues involving unavailability of players, causing friction and conflict among the residences.

Zia Jonathan, one of Irene’s players, proposes that it is likely resultant from the perception that soccer is predominantly a male sport that some women feel soccer is less suited to them. According to Jonathan, when women do end up joining the games, most do not take it as seriously as they would other sports. “Also, some of them do not know what is required of them because soccer is not just about kicking a ball around as most people make it out to be,” said Jonathan.

The fact that the players are students creates challenges in terms of balancing studies and playing during evenings when most tests and studies are scheduled.
McKinnon mentioned that they are still working on their team to get a kit for the house “since soccer is not such a big thing in this house and we are working on building up a new culture and tradition”.

Maties res soccer, thus, aims to challenge social norms by providing a formal platform for competition, drawing awareness to the sport and identifying untapped potential at the University.
The official league games commenced on 16 April and will continue for the remainder of the year. The games take place on Monday to Thursday from 18.15 at Lentelus Sportsground (Goldfields).