29 October 2019
As 34 Local Football Association (LFA) champions in Cape Town battled it out for promotion to the much-sought after Third Division spots in the past two weekends, the two clubs that were promoted last year are yet to kick the ball in their new division.
Woodlands United FC from Mitchells Plain and Crystal Palace of Manenberg have only played Nedbank Cup and may only play their first league games this weekend because of a disjuncture between the LFA seasons and those of the upper leagues. LFAs – the lowest leagues in the country – play from March/April to September, while other leagues start in the third/fourth quarter of the year until May the following year.
This means a 12-months waiting period for Third Division League, formerly SAB League, new comers as opposed to the three months for clubs that have been promoted to the ABC Motsepe League, GladAfrica Championship (formerly First Division) and to the Premier Soccer League.
Is this good or bad?
As much as the disjuncture breaks the momentum, it gives the rookies enough time to prepare for life in the new divisions. And the fact that both current Third Division champions, Young Pirates, and runner’s up, Matroosfontein, were in their first season, indicates that this long wait may have given them the edge and is not a bad idea after all.
Woodlands and Palace agree.
Achmat Williams, chairman of Palace, said: “It is a good thing because when you are playing in the LFA you can use players of any age, but in the SAB League you have to start with at least five players under the ages of 21. So this gives you enough time to search for new recruits and develop younger players.”
His Woodlands counterpart, Brendan Fernendes, echoed his sentiments, and added: “In SAB League you need a lot of money. I think for registration alone you pay R25 000. And then you have your medicals, match fees, transport, etc. It’s a lot of money involved so this wait gives us time to get our house in order.”