THORISO PHASHA AND KWAZI SOKHELA
The Engen Champ of Champs soccer tournament hosted by SuperSport United Football Club at the University of Pretoria High Performance Sports Complex was brought to an abrupt end on 8 October. The tournament was scheduled to take place from 7-9 October, but was cancelled after footballer Kabelo Qabalatsane passed away.
Sixteen-year-old Qabalatsane collapsed during his first match of the tournament at approximately 09:30 in the morning while representing Bloemfontein-based club Roo Stars. He received prompt medical attention from International Medical Services personnel and a medical doctor at the scene. The medics managed to stabilise Qabalatsane before he was taken to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in an ambulance where he passed away.
Event organisers subsequently called off the junior tournament after consulting with all the participating teams. The decision was made on the basis of compassion and as a gesture of respect to the grieving family. The CEO of the host club SuperSport United, Stan Matthews, expressed his condolences to the family and the club at the event: “No words can fully express our grief and shock at this tragedy. Unfortunately no further comment can be made until the official medical report is received as to what caused this tragedy. At this sad time our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his teammates and everyone at Roo Stars and all those present when the incident occurred.”
Prior to the cancellation of the tournament, the first day of the tournament was quite eventful with a total of nine matches taking place on 7 October. Qabalatsane’s team, Roo Stars, endured a tough opening match against Old Mutual Academy as they went down in a 5-1 demolition. Soweto outfit Orlando Pirates claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over SuperSport United in their opening fixture. Umqhele HS opened their account with a 1-0 victory over Chippa United. Roo Stars continued to struggle as they lost their second match of the day to SuperSport United in a 4-0 rout. Orlando Pirates registered another clinical performance against Chippa United with a 1-0 win. Roo Stars and Umqhele HS then played out to a 0-0 draw. Old Mutual claimed their second win of the tournament when they overcame Orlando Pirates in a 2-0 scoreline. SuperSport United also registered the largest win of the tournament with a massive 5-0 drubbing of Chippa United.]