16 teams representing the north and south regions of the city converged on the Gauteng Provincial Legislature housed at Johannesburg’s City Hall, to compete in the Nike ‘FC247 Own The Street’ five-a-side football tournament on Saturday.
The five-a-side tournament kicked off with regional playoffs during May, where the iconic communities of Soweto and Alexandra battled it out for the honour of local pride, in the hopes of claiming the ultimate bragging rights of ‘Owning the Street’. Only eight teams from each region progressed to the final on Saturday.
Situated on the doorstep of one of the oldest buildings in the city, the final was an action-packed event complete with some of the finest footwork and skills on display. Adapted to the local version of five-a-side football called one pal, the young footballers all featured in a round-robin first round, playing to qualify for the top eight made up of six teams representing Soweto and two from Alexandra.
The Soweto teams continued to dominate into the play-offs with Movers FC and River Park FC winning a spot in the final. Both teams were kitted with the new Nike Bomba Finale II and Nike Lunar Gato II boots enabling them to amplify their skills on the uneven surface.
Just before they took to the streets one last time they were treated to a special appearance from Nike’s The Chance 2011 winner, Reyaad Pieterse, who recently signed with Kaizer Chiefs. Pieterse offered both teams words of advice and encouragement, acknowledging that street football is where many young stars first developed their skills.
“Today I am a professional goal keeper but it all started on the streets and courts when I was younger and just kicking the ball around. From the streets of Jozi to winning Nike’s The Chance trial event, joining the Nike Academy in the UK, playing for Shamrock Rovers in Ireland and to return home to sign for the biggest club in our country took a lot of hard work, discipline and commitment. I’ve seen some great skill on display today, and I encourage you to keep working hard, and you too could be living this dream,” said Pieterse.
The final kicked off with both teams rushing for control of the ball. It was a high-energy and fast paced game resulting in a draw at the final blow of the whistle. The teams stepped up to take the penalty shots and it was Movers who scored on point to claim the overall top spot.
Movers FC team captain Prince Kok was overjoyed to receive the winner’s prize of R15,000.00 on behalf of his team.
Said Kok: “FC247 is an amazing tournament and playing here in the city where there is so much energy has been great. The competition has been good and this format to have us competing makes us feel like we are pros.”
Ntsako Chauke from River Park FC was voted MVP and was handed a cash prize of R2,000.00 from Pieterse, who was joined by The Chance players Jonathan King, Khaya Nzimande, Nicholas Mynhardt, Charlie Tsotetsi and Melusi Zulu to scan every game in search for the player of the tournament.
The Nike FC247 Own The Street tournament is a disruptive event celebrating football anytime, and in any place.