By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
RICHARD “Malizo” Rantjie might be out of side in the country’s football circle, but the former SuperSport and BidVest Wits University midfielder is still passionate about the development of football.
Rantjie who also made his mark in the national Under-20 and Under-23 teams between 2004 and 2006 is the main brain behind the annual TCF under-21 Youth Challenge in Mankweng (Turfloop) outside Polokwane, Limpopo.
“We officially launched the tournament in December last year under the banner of the TCF Group’s legacy with the hope of contributing and identify talent to the country’s football development,” pointed out Rantjie who also had a stint in Indonesia where he played for one of the clubs out there.
According to Rantjie, TCF Group which is headed by Regulatory Complience Specialist, Pule J Mahlalela’s chief purpose is to produce at least one or two players for Bafana Bafana in the next three years via this tournament which will see 16 clubs battling for the honours from September 23-26 at Mankweng/Turfloop Sparta Grounds.
“We have invited a number of scouts from various clubs to come and identify the exceptional rural talent in this tournament with the hope that they will spot at least few players whom they can develop to be something in future,” added Rantjie who is also the coach for the TCF side, the host club.
Last year Polokwane Academy lifted the inaugural title, however they are likely to find it difficult to defend their title this year more so with the full presence of Tshiamo Sports Academy which is likely to give them a good run for their money.
Those with good memories will remember that Tsiamo Sports Academy is the same institution that produced a number of the country’s celebrated players who went on to make it big in the Absa Premiership clubs and Bafana Bafana such as the same Rantjie, Hlompo Kekana, Ramahlwe Mphahlele (both for Mamelodi Sundowns), Lehlogonolo Masalesa (Orlando Pirates), Phaladi Kobola (Mpumalanga Black Aces) and many more.
Boasting of a number of partners such as Cafe’ Enrista, Sportsmans Warehouse, Turf FM and TCF Group, the tournament will see the eventual winner taking home R10 000 with the runners-up also walking away with R5 000 while the club finishing third will also smile all the way home with R4 000.