By Oliver Field
This year’s Rhodes Internal Soccer League promises to live up to the hype that has surrounded the league for the past decade. It has always been one of the most widely participated in, and well-supported sports events at Rhodes University.
The league has been a major talking point amongst many soccer fans in Grahamstown, and its relaxed feel without compromising on competitiveness is what makes it unique.
This year has seen Rhodes Music Radio giving considerable assistance to Sports Admin in the organisation and administration of the league. The radio station has had significant ties with the league over the last few years, most noticeably providing a website for it last year as well as live updates in sports bulletins.
Ross van der Linde and Mike Smurthwaite of RMR are the league administrators, and RMR is the over-riding sponsoring for the league providing referee’s fees and a website.
Smurthwaite believes the league will run smoothly compared to last year and might be the most successful it has ever been.
“Because the fixtures are so organised, and the venues and referees are decided long before each game, the league shouldn’t have the same difficulties it had last year”, said Smurthwaite.
Despite the league’s keen following, it did not go without criticism last year. Waterlogged pitches, cancelled fixtures and a change of format midway through the season overshadowed the league’s success in attracting talented young players. However, the problems that were often out of Sport Admin’s hands did not detract from the quality of soccer. In the end, it was Dinganga who snatched the title in the final of the adjusted format.
Because of the fixture congestion that accumulated at the end of the season, the 19 teams were forced to partake in play-offs in a cup quarter-final system. The alteration solved the dilemma that the league found itself in, and also provided an extremely exciting climax to the season.
This year has seen a change in the traditional configuration of the league in order to prevent the crises from last year. The 18 registered teams have been divided into two separate pools of 9. With the top four teams from each pool are put into a cup quarter final knockout to decide the Champions, and the fifth to eighth placed teams proceed into a plate knockout.
The new format should attract much attention as there is added pressure on teams to perform in order to progress to the next round.
The league has already got underway with some early memorable encounters. Last Wednesday saw the likes of giants of last year’s league, Cory/Matthews and MSA in action, both continuing the form from last year with hefty victories over Stanley Kidd and Team Oppi respectively.
There are a few games that will leave the mouths’ of Internal League fans watering in the fixture list, which include Black Gold taking on MSA on April 23 as well as Cory/Matthews and Zimsoc on April 30.
All the games are set to take place on Prospect Field, which has been specifically allocated to the league, and will be played on most Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, which should attract many supporters due to their user-friendly kick off times.
With new administration, and organised fixtures venues and referees, the Rhodes Internal Soccer League seems certain to provide impressive and hard-fought football for 2007.
For more information on the league, as well as fixtures and tables, log onto www.rhodesmusicradio.co.za/soccer.