The organisers of the under-19 Premier Cup, Bayhill United were left devastated ahead of the final round of the play-offs for this year’s Easter showpiece with the unexpected death of club stalwart Martin Ekard last Thursday.
“It is with great sadness that we inform the greater public of the untimely death of one of our organising committee members. Martin Ekard died tragically on Thursday February 9,” said club chairman John Rangoli in a statement released by the tournament’s organising committee.
Rangoli fondly remembered Ekard as a humble man, one that always led by example.
“Martin will be remembered at the Bayhill United Football Club as a past chairman who served from the years 1997 to 2000. He lived for football, especially junior football development and will be remembered for the many round trips he made week in and week out, to collect and drop players from the football field to their houses,” Rangoli said.
“The club is truly indebted to him for his loyal service. He is saluted as a founder member of Bayhill and a man who served the community both recreationally and through the company he owned. Martin was also an integral part of the Bayhill Premier Cup Tournament committee – where he served for 34 years and was part of the planning for the 2023 event.
“This weekend, at the round robin play-offs, we observed a moment of silence before the start of every match to commemorate the life of a true gentleman and brother to many at the club and our organising committee. Rest well Martin Ekard, football has lost another legend.”
• Meanwhile, Greenwood Athletic FC, last year’s Plate winners, are among the teams who have qualified for the 2023 edition of the under-19 Bayhill Premier Cup. Missing from the list of qualifiers, besides hosts Bayhill, are teams from the Mitchell’s Plain area.
Greenwood emerged from the last qualifying round of play-offs in Wynberg where 28 teams competed for the 14 spots at stake over the weekend.
The tournament, played over the Easter weekend, is the pinnacle for many a young player’s football career.
Warren Lotters, coach of Greenwood, shared his delight with his lads having qualified for the event.
“For Greenwood Athletic, which is probably one of the biggest amateur clubs in the Western Cape, it is a huge honour to be part of such a prestigious tournament,” said Lotters.
He, however, lamented the fact that his side struggled to qualify.
“However, it was also a great experience and huge learning for me as the coach with my technical team.
“We also boast the biggest and most loyal supporters locally. So for the club to be at the Bayhill has become tradition and this is a great achievement for our community,” he added.
Lotters said his team had been working together for about seven weeks before the play-offs and hopes this will lead to them being better prepared.
“Last year we won the Plate section and achieved this with less than four weeks of training. For me personally, as a coach together with my technical team, winning the Plate section has been a great achievement and hopefully we can go one step further this time.”
The teams who qualified are: FC Porto, Grassy Park United, JL Zwane, City Kings, Young Bafana, Dunoon Academy, Greenwood Athletic, Clover FC, Queen’s Park, Hellenic, Hazendal United, Matroosfontein, Rygersdal and Jomo’s Power.
Seeded teams: Cape Town Spurs (champions), Cape Town City, Stellenbosch, Safa Invitational XI and hosts, Bayhill United.
• Additional reporting by Mark Ward