Gunners FC made Alexandra proud when they were crowned champions of the 2018 Youth Elite Games following a spirited performance in the tournament that saw them dispose of twice finalists Prestige Football Academy 1–0.
Teams from Alexandra made their first appearance in the annual tournament which was launched on Youth Day in 2016 in Cosmos City. The 83-year-old Alexandra Northrand Local Football Association hosted this year’s edition at the Number 3 Square Grounds on Heritage Day.
Four teams from Alex were drafted into the group stages of the tournament made up of another four invitational teams from various areas in Johannesburg. They were Tembisa Sports Centre, Nale Academy from the Vaal, Prestige from Florida in Roodepoort and the Spanish Football Development from Cosmo City.
Alex Royal Tigers SC lost in the semis to Prestige while the Gunners got the better of Nale Academy to set up the final with Prestige.
The game started off at a blistering pace and the Gunners piled on the pressure looking for the early goal.
This eventually paid dividends when Harrison Hlapa, a Realogile High School boy, broke the offside trap. The Prestige keeper came off his line in an attempt to close down the advancing striker but Harrison cleverly dribbled past him to slot the ball into an empty net.
The solitary goal was enough to win the championship for the Gunners.
As there was no prize money, Gunners were awarded the trophy, gold medals, soccer balls, coaching boards, water bottles and a paid-for opportunity to go and watch an Absa Premiership match of their choice.
The tournament is currently sponsored by Colin Madlolo of Amibex Company. Tournament founder Michael Sebola praised the organisational ability and structure of Alex football, saying it was no wonder that this iconic township was one of the major contributors of players to South African football.
“The rich history of football here coupled with a well organised local football association which dates far back to its founding in 1935, contributed to the immense success of the tournament,” he said.
“The fact that a local team won the competition says a lot about the work that has been ploughed into football development in Alexandra.”
All participating teams received coaching equipment and coaches were each issued with the tournament’s golf shirts.