Inqaku, Vodacom and the Motherwell Football Association (MOFA) have partnered to host a school football tournament later this month. This Vodacom NXT LVL tournament, hosted in Motherwell on 17 and 18 June, will serve to promote school football in the region. It will also pilot a new player verification and fan communication system that is aimed at eradicating age and identity cheating and encouraging community involvement and support.

A total of 62 boys and girls teams from 31 schools are expected to compete in the event.

For the first time, open level players participating in the tournament will be issued Vodacom SIM cards. The SIM cards will act as digital player ID cards, displaying player and tournament stats when a player enters the competition USSD string, *120*3428#.

Inqaku and SAFA Digital are currently enrolling over 1,200 players, parents, coaches and referees in the competition system. The USSD service will be used in conjunction with the existing Inqaku and SAFA Digital online registration and verification system.

Family, friends and fans of the teams will be able to track the tournament’s results, logs, fixtures, and player statistics through the same USSD service.

“We use our mobile phones to organize and manage our everyday lives. It was only a matter of time before we would start using them to facilitate football, cut-out age cheating and build a new formalised football communications platform” explains Craig Rivett of Inqaku. “This will be the first time in South Africa that close-to real-time match statistics will be available on demand for a school tournament.”

According to SAFA NEC member and head of SAFA’s Schools Football Committee, Mzimkhulu Fina, “If this tournament is successful we would like to replicate it in all nine Nelson Mandela Bay football zones, throughout the province and across South Africa.” He added that “the goal is to continually learn, improve the technology and buildup schools football”.

The youth tournament coincides with the recent announcement of Vodacoms NXT LVL soccer talent initiative that will see SA’s best 14 to 16-year-old football players attending a football boot camp with Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, and former Banyana Banyana U17 captain Shorty Dludlu. The top players will walk away with a full scholarship to TUKS Sports High School.

“Vodacom has had a long history of empowering South Africans through technology. As our youth demographic continues to grow, it was very important for us to create an engaging platform that allows young people to live their passion and realise their dreams through the discovering and nurturing of different talents,” said Mzamo Masito, Vodacom Brand Director.

“Young South Africans often dream of making it in life and often it just remains a dream, but through Vodacom NXT LVL any aspiring soccer player, this includes female contenders too, have the chance to be discovered and to take their talent and passion to greater heights. We are looking for the next generation of soccer greats and we encourage South African youth to enter the Vodacom NXT LVL talent search,” concluded Masito.

If you are a young soccer player between 14 and 16, or know someone who is, register at www.vodacomnxtlvl.co.za, record yourself doing 1 of 4 football drills and upload your video.