After an absence of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers of the annual under-19 Bayhill Premier Cup have announced that the tournament will take place over the Easter weekend, from Wednesday April 13 to Monday April 18, at Erica Park, in Belhar.
A highly-anticipated fixture on the soccer calendar for more than three decades, since its establishment in 1989, the competition has, in recent years, experienced challenges beyond its control, says tournament director PJ Williams.
Operating without a major sponsor since 2015, followed by a devastating drought that hit the Western Cape in 2018 and of course, the spread of the deadly coronavirus in 2020, left the organising committee with no choice but to put the Premier Cup on hold, he said.
Thankfully, he added, with restrictions having eased up a bit, it gave the committee confidence to consider staging this year’s event, albeit a scaled down version.
This year’s competition will accommodate older players who might otherwise not have qualified to play, considering that the last play-off matches were held in February 2020.
In a statement released earlier this week, the organising committee said that all local qualifying teams from 2020 will automatically qualify for 2022 as per the play-off standing in 2020. Since there were no play-offs for 2021 or 2022, this was the logical route to take, the statement read.
It also states that all visiting teams from 2020 would have first option to participate, but should they choose not to, they will be replaced by teams on stand-by.
Williams said the tournament format remains the same, although there might be a slightly different order of events, in line with government regulations and depending on whether or not more restrictions are lifted or whether they are advised otherwise.
“We have already communicated with the necessary teams about their participation in this year’s event,” he said.
“We want the legacy established over the years to be alive for the next generation. Although some uncertainty remains, our confidence and belief are high,” Williams said.
“We are making a concession by allowing three players of up to 21 years old to play per team. We hope that these players get another opportunity after the 2020 and 2021 were cancelled,” he said.
“Although we realise that the economic situation is not on our side, the hope is still there that a sponsor will eventually come on board.”
Teams that have qualified are, host club Bayhill United, Ajax Cape Town (Now Cape Town Spurs, Cape Town City FC (PSL) , D&G Orient, FN Rangers FC, Grassy Park United, Hanover Park United, Hellenic FC, Hustlaz Academy, Ikapa Sporting, JL Zwane, Jordan Callies AFC, Juventus AFC, Milano FC (Mitchell’s Plain LFA Representative), Rebels FC, Stellenbosch FC (PSL), Ubuntu Academy, Wayside Wanderers and Safa Cape Town Academy (Safa CT)