Development has long been a key element of SAB’s football sponsorship. At the heart of this commitment is the company’s 13 year-long investment in the country’s largest grassroots league, the SAB League, which aims to develop SA’s future football stars and the sport, at grassroots level.
SAB has a rich history of involvement in South African football dating as far back as the late 1950s. It began with its flagship brand, Castle Lager, investing in the National Football League in 1959 and culminating in its current sponsorship of the national team, Bafana Bafana, since the country’s readmission to FIFA. SAB has also supported each of South Africa’s World Cup bids and was actively involved in the hosting of the international tournament on home soil in 2010.
SAB became the title of the league in 2000 (then known as the SAB U21 Regional League).
The company’s investment in football at grassroots level is entrenched in its conviction that socio-economic change can be brought to SA’s communities in this way. Football has a proven track record of playing a role in bringing positive change to people’s lives and to communities.
SAB takes pride in playing a leadership role in this societal change. Further to this, SA football and its standing both at a local and international level can be improved through this approach.
Grassroots To National
The aim of the SAB League is to identify and nurture young sporting talent at grassroots level, promoting the opportunity for them to move through the ranks of SA football.
The SAB League is South Africa’s largest senior football development league with a nationwide reach covering SAFA’s 52 regions. A total of 1 050 clubs participate in the SAB League, equating to 26 250 players.
As South African football’s Third Division, the SAB League provides a platform for players and teams to be promoted to the Second Division; Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams, National First Division teams and the ultimate, the National Team, Bafana Bafana.
The SAB League season begins each year in September and runs until June the following year when the National Championships are played.
More than 1000 local football clubs, comprising a total of more than 26 000 players, participate at the beginning of the season, with competitions held in each of SAFA’s 52 regions across the country.
These countrywide competitions lead to the Provincial Play-offs held in each of SA’s nine provinces between April and May of each year. A total of 18 teams or two teams per province are, at this stage of the tournament, promoted to participate in the Second Division.
The SAB League’s top nine provincial teams and one invitational team from University Sports South Africa (USSA) then compete in the National Championships held during Youth Month, celebrated in June. A public draw sees SAB and SAFA officials determine which provinces play against one another.
As evidence of its success, the SAB League has over the years been the springboard for some of South Africa’s top football players, many of which have at some point or still do play for the country’s top PSL teams, the national team, Bafana Bafana, as well as been scouted by international football clubs, notably in the UK. Some well-known SAB League Alumni include the following:
- Reneilwe Letsholonyane – Kaizer Chiefs
- Happy Jele – Orlando Pirates
- Lucas Twala – Orlando Pirates
- Innocent Mdledle – Mamelodi Sundowns
- Andile Jali – Orlando Pirates
SAB recognises that our business success comes from the people of South Africa. It is therefore our obligation and responsibility to care for them and to prioritise their needs. SAB is passionate about serving communities and the youth that are the building blocks of those communities.
SAB believes that developing and nurturing talent can give youth the hope and help they need to avoid underage drinking and other social pitfalls such as crime.
The company is in the unique position of being able to use football players to drive responsible messaging amongst their peers and in their communities, thereby helping to fight alcohol abuse in the hearts and minds of this most vulnerable. Life skills and development workshops for players are conducted prior to the kick-off of the National Championships in June.
This is strengthened by the fact that studies conducted show sport amongst youth can help instil in them a sense of empowerment and belonging, increases their self-esteem and can have an impact on reducing crime and other social ills. It also provides an alternate outlet got youth to manage their energy and contribute to a safe environment.
SAB League Ambassadors
SAB believes that participants in the SAB League – players, coaches and match officials – should be equipped with the necessary tools, skills and training to ensure the sustainability of South African football.
Providing SAB support on this front is legendary South African football personality, Shoes Moshoeu, a SAB League Ambassador. Shoes has over the last few years imparted with valuable knowledge and skills through Development and Coaching clinics conducted during the tournament’s Provincial Play-offs and National Championships. His passion and commitment towards SA football and the development of youth through the sport has acted as a motivating force amongst young players.
Shoes will continue playing an active role in the SAB League as an Ambassador during the 2013 season.
Other football legends who will support the programme include, Shakes Khungwane, Floyd Mogale and Kwena Moabelo.