CAPE TOWN – Stellenbosch FC are set to make their debut in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) on the back foot because there is no suitable venue in the Cape Winelands region ready to host top-flight football.
Last season, Stellenbosch played their home games in Idas Valley and went on to win the National First Division (NFD) and automatic promotion to the PSL. The venue was regularly packed out as the locals came out in their numbers to get behind the team.
The PSL, though, has strict requirements with regard to a venue’s readiness to host top-flight games. According to the PSL, Idas Valley falls short in many respects with regard to safety and the venue has been vetoed.
Stellenbosch have approached the University of Stellenbosch to use the Danie Craven Stadium or the Coetzenburg Stadium on the campus, but both those venues need a few issues to be sorted before it will be approved by the PSL.
While the rookie top-flight club has been assured that the issues will be attended to, it will take a few months. As a result, Stellenbosch have already been forced to reschedule their opening game. They were initially slated to be at home to Chippa United on August 3, but that has now changed and the game will take place in Port Elizabeth (Chippa’s home venue).
As things stand, Stellenbosch will, in the interim, likely have to play their home games at Athlone Stadium, although the club is currently looking at the possibility and availability of other venues in and around the Cape Winelands area.
On the football front, though, Stellenbosch are ready to go. They can’t wait for their first match in the PSL.
Initially known as Vasco da Gama, Stellenbosch FC was established in 2016 when then-owner Mario Ferreira relocated the club to the Cape Winelands region.
Ferreira subsequently sold the club to the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, with the backing of Johann Rupert’s Remgro Limited, and it paid immediate dividends when Stellenbosch won the NFD title.
Now, in preparation for the PSL, coach Steve Barker has beefed up the squad with players like Morgan Gould, Marc van Heerden, Mpho Matsi, Zimo Brenner, Waseem Isaacs, Boy de Jong, Dillan Solomons, Diego Franco, Inga Nyeleka and Kristopher Bergman.
Barker is aware that his players are excited and motivated to do well. But he has cautioned against over-exuberance. It is just as important that they keep their feet on the ground, and approach their PSL debut with composure and maturity.
African News Agency (ANA)