Stealth-like focus, determination and pure class are what led IZRA Domino Club to glory this season.
After playing more than 30 games, the club ended unbeaten, winning the first and second round trophy, league title and knockout championship in the Western Cape Domino Union.
It’s a feeling they have grown used to, having won the first round trophy for the past seven years running, as well as the league title for the last three years.
The club is owned and captained by businessman, Ismail Rajah, who could not hide his excitement at their latest achievement.
“We are a very family-orientated club which has meetings regularly and we take this game very seriously as some of us have been playing it for nearly all our lives.”
First known as Campwell Domino Club, Mr Rajah decided 17 years ago that it was time for some new life to be blown into the team.
“We were one of the weakest teams in the league and we were always struggling, but I thought it was time for change,” he said.
He set out to recruit the best of the best to jump on board with his idea of creating a domino powerhouse and one day dominating the Western Cape Domino Union one day.
The players hail from all over Cape Town, including Hanover Park, Mitchell’s Plain and Woodstock, and play weekly matches at the Saint Giles Hall in Rondebosch.
“I approached players who were performing in other teams and shared my ideas. These guys came on board and that is when we formed IZRA and the rest is history,” Mr Rajah said.
While dominoes is still one of the most frequently played social games on the Cape Flats, for these club members, it’s a part of their culture and most importantly, their sport of choice.
“We have guys who take this game very seriously and love this game.
“Guys like Cassiem Hassen, who arrives before everybody else at the hall with dominoes and is one of the last to leave.
“He is over-committed to this team and it is players like this who contribute towards our success,” said Mr Rajah.
Cassiem Hassen, from Woodstock, has been involved with the game for nearly 40 years and has played for the likes of Dynamic Strokes DC, Classics DC and Democratics DC, but was snapped up by IZRA a few years ago.
“It is such a privilege to play for this team. There is a sense of family and unity and at the end of the day, that contributes towards the success of the club.”
Mr Hassen said this was not an easy season and the players only aimed to do well, not focusing on keeping their unbeaten season intact.
“The guys only wanted to do well. You play to win every game and you treat every team the same.
“We have made history this year and now we must focus on protecting that bit of history,” Mr Hassen said.
“It is such an honour playing for this team especially this season when we made history in the game of dominoes for winning the league and the top eight without losing a game.
“Well done to IZRA and well done Mr Rajah, shukran for everything you’ve done for the team. This is better than the World Cup for me,” he said.
This season, IZRA pulled off something no other domino club could manage, creating history by winning every title on offer, a first and second round trophy, league honours as well as the Top 8 Cup.
“There were teams in the past who managed to win everything in the league, but then failed to win the Top 8 and then teams which maybe won three out of the four major trophies but this year, IZRA took everything,” said Mr Rajah.
He now has his sights firmly set on going international and taking on some of the best teams in the world.
However, he also admitted that IZRA’s first goal would be to refocus and start planning ahead for next season.
“Teams are going to come at us now that we have secured the titles. We do not treat any team lightly and every game is a big game for IZRA and that is the difference.”
“It’s an absolutely fantastic achievement that everybody must know about. To you it might be just a game, but to us, this is our sport,” Mr Rajah said.