The Gareth Ncaca Foundation is hosting their inaugural under-20 football tournament, at the Langa sports complex, from Tuesday March 7 to Tuesday March 21.
At the weekend former Mamelodi Sundowns central midfielder, Gareth Ncaca reminisced about the first time he got lost travelling from Paarl to Langa in the mid 1990s.
The young footballer said when he moved from Mbekweni to Langa, it was like making it from the National First Division to the Premier Soccer League in Gauteng. It was exciting and competitive, and that is the type of grounds he needed to showcase his number six abilities.
On his journey to Langa, it was the camaraderie and ubuntu of the people in the taxi that helped him to get to his destination.
The 41-year-old Ncaca understands that it takes more than playing football to motivate youngsters from some of the worst to the best circumstances in life.
He started playing professional football for Seven Stars during the 1998/99 season. He has over 51 caps for All Stars, Bay United, Moroka Swallows and CAF African champions, Mamelodi Sundowns. He has played in the National First Division, Premier Soccer League, Telkom Knockout and MTN8 competitions.
Three years ago Ncaca introduced his non-profit organisation, the Gareth Ncaca Foundation, in a quest to promote community work through football in townships such as Langa, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Paarl.
In their first operation, they hosted the under-20 tournament, in Langa, which was won by Grassy Park United in 2020.
“It is to give back to the townships and to get the youth active. There are Bayhill’s, Bayview’s and Engen Knockouts, for all these tournaments, the most important thing is to give the kids an opportunity to play in the calendar year. It is going to be a nice experience and a diversity of teams,” he said.
The foundation recently added the Gareth Ncaca Academy, which caters for 35 young footballers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
A couple of the footballers have been scouted by teams such as Ubuntu Football Academy, Cape Umoya and Tableview FC to name a few.
Ncaca said his parents and mentors, particular his father, Norman Ncaca, helped him to remain consistent and sharp in his game. He wants to do the same for as many youngsters as he can influence from the township.
He does, however, realise that it takes more than a village to raise a child. His goal is to have as many people and businesses taking the initiative to assist each of the 35 youngsters with equipment, transport or any related logistics.
Teams for the under-20 football tournament this month will come from Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.
Former Kaizer Chiefs legend, Marks Maponyane has sponsored a team from Gqeberha, while former Bloemfontein Celtics legend, Mark Mayambela and a couple of prominent coaches from the city have sponsored teams from Strand and Gauteng to participate.
Ncaca said the goal of the tournament is to bridge the gap between amateur and professional football, while providing a platform for the youngsters to showcase their talent in front of scouts.
The tournament also includes the Norman Ncaca Cup, dedicated to his late father and mentor, which will be won in the women’s section.
“When I first started off I was told football would give me life and I didn’t believe it. I needed to take the responsibility. It is all for the young kids. Everything that you do matters, whether in the classroom or on the field. Take care of school and take care of football and they will take care of you,” he said.