THAMAGA: After a resounding successful tournament which saw local team, Thamaga Blue Aces, lift the cup, the organisers of the Thamaga Annual Festive Challenge will this year (2024) hold all of their fixtures under the floodlights.
In an interview after the tournament, organiser Tiro Lepotokisi told Mmegi Online that after realising that the attendance was not satisfactory in the morning and afternoon matches, they decided on late night kickoffs during the semi-finals.
He admitted that there were some initial lighting hiccups when they piloted the idea during the semi-finals, but said things all worked out in the final where multitudes came to support their teams. He said they have always dreamt of holding night games but because of lack of resources, the idea seemed farfetched.
Lepotokisi said people were happy to watch night games for the very first time in the history of the 16 year old tournament.
“We realised that the attendance was low because during the day people are mostly busy with daily life chores so they were not able to attend,” he said. To put icing on the cake, Lepotokisi said what impressed many was the fact that the third place play off and the final was broadcast live on Access TV.
The 16th edition the Thamaga Annual Festive Challenge saw 10 teams battle it out for P15,000 in prize money from December 23 to 30, 2023. There were five teams from Thamaga being Thamaga Swallows, Thamaga Blue Aces, Thamaga Shooting Stars, Thamaga Footbal Club and Sanyane Celtics. Participating teams from other villages included Avesco from Ramaphatle, Kumakwane Checkers from Kumakwane, Kgabosetso from Moshupa, Gakuto Swallows from Gakuto and Mmakanke Rock Masters from Mmakanke.
Lepotokisi said the reason they invite teams from outside Thamaga is to build relations with other villages.
“We have realised that sports can unite us as a nation. Looking back to when we started this competition, our aim was to unite villages and unearth talent in this region. We didn’t just want to focus on our village only but we had to also set our eyes on our neighbouring villages because the talent in the end has to benefit the whole country,” he explained.
Lepotokisi was quick to point out that in 2023 they were blessed with various sponsors who made everything possible. He revealed that that their main sponsor Sunlux gave them P156,500.00 and other sponsors included FSG, PK Agric Shop and Pro Guard. He also said that they introduced a Man of the Match prize of P250.
“Also for the first time, the best young player, goalkeeper of the tournament, coach of the tournament, top goal scorer and player of the tournament each won P1,000.00,” he added.
Overall the final was a great live spectacle which saw two teams, Gakuto Swallows and Thamaga Blue Aces, duelling it out under the lights with the crowd cheering and sometimes jeering. After trailing 1-0 at half time, Blue Aces mounted a great comeback in front of the home crowd and won the game 3-2. The final was attended by Minister of Youth, Gender and Sport, Tumiso Rakgare, as well as the area legislator Palelo Motaosane.