In 2023, the East London High School Soccer League experienced encouraging growth as a handful of teams put themselves in position for a run at the title. After a successful year, SuperSport Schools sat down with one of the league administrators, Matthew Geach, to learn more about what’s in store for 2024 and to take a look back on a hard-fought season.
“Looking back on the conclusion of the 2023 East London High School Soccer League’s season, the main thing that helped us to have a successful season was that all the participating teams were driven with ambitions to do well and claim the league crown for themselves,” Geach said.
Stutterheim High School, led by their captain Nanga Jodi, who scored a stunner on the final day against one of the favourites, Dale College, was crowned the champions.
For most of the season, five teams were in the race for the league honours: Stutterheim, Dale College, who were the defending champions, their traditional rivals, Selborne College, who finished third in 2022, and two newcomers, the Centre of Excellence and Cathcart.
Towards the end of the campaign, a couple of Dale College games determined the winners. The school from Qonce had two matches to play, one against Selborne College and the other against Stutterheim, and they needed four points to secure the title.
A draw away to Selborne in their second last match put Dale under heavy pressure to get a win against Stutterheim in their last outing. Stutterheim, meanwhile, needed only a point to claim the title. In the end, they edged out Dale by a goal to nil to win the league for the first time in the school’s history.
“For 2024, we plan to kick off the season in March, to get ahead of the June and September exams, as most schools turn their focus to academics during those their times,” Geach said.
“We are also looking forward to welcoming West Bank High School to the league. They’re coming across from one of the other league streams, where they finished third in the league and third in the Knockout Cup, losing out to Ebenezer Majombozi High School in the semi-finals, who were the eventual winners of the Knockout Cup after beating Dale College in the final.”
The development of girls’ football at the various high schools in the East London High School Soccer League will also receive attention in 2024, with the focus on providing them with a well-structured environment, much like the boys’ competition.
“It is our aim to provide a platform for avid footballers to showcase their talents, provide schools with structured competitions, and give students avenues to pursue careers in the sport,” Geach said.
“Following a very successful year, we are looking to grow and provide more opportunities for the schools involved within our league streams.”
A passionate reader and dedicated writer, Siya possesses three degrees from Rhodes University including a Postgraduate Diploma at Rhodes University. He also played amateur cricket and soccer, both during his university years. While honing his journalism skills at Grocott’s Mail in Makhanda, he developed a profound interest in the community’s response to crime. Additionally, he covered topics such as art/culture and student politics at Rhodes University in 2022. In his spare time, Siya can be found exploring galleries, dining at restaurants, indulging in literature, taking photographs or savouring his favourite dish, spaghetti.