File picture: Reuters
Cape Town – A local under-12 soccer team from the SA Schools Football Association (Sasfa), in partnership with six players from the Queens Park Football Club in Woodstock, have won the international Manchester United Cup.

The group is expected to return to a rapturous welcome at Cape Town International Airport at 10am today.

The 14 players have shown that South African soccer teams can fly their country's flag high by beating highly-rated overseas teams.

The team won the prestigious tournament over the Easter weekend in Manchester, said the Queens Park Football Club under-8 and under-12 teams coach Suleiman Ismail.

“I was amazed and over the moon when I heard that they had won the tournament, because playing in the Manchester United Cup is a big thing in Europe.”

Queens Park Football Club treasurer Nico Bester said that besides having to go straight into their first match after landing in Manchester, the players had faced a number of hurdles before flying to England.

"The trip was initially meant for Queens Park Football Club's players, but because of financial constraints Sasfa had joined forces with the club in supplying the rest of the squad of about 14 players. 

"These boys had to endure great hardship to make it to Manchester. The problems faced by the youngsters and adults to reach England was horrendous. We all helped to raise funds to make this possible," said Bester.

“It was a nightmare, as some of them come from disadvantaged communities. The cost of this tour had a base-price of R30 000 a person, with additional cost for kit, spending etc."

Cape Times