Road To Erica Park starts here

It’s that time of the year when teams from across the city compete for a spot in next year’s under-19 Bayhill Premier Cup soccer tournament. This weekend, the Solo Street sports facility in Steenberg will play host to the first round of play-offs. Picture: Bayhill Premier Cup 2023

In just a few short months between now an the end of January, teams that have qualified for next year’s Bayhill Premier Cup, will be sorted.

This weekend sees the first of the Premier Cup play-offs taking place at the Solo Street sports facility in Steenberg, with teams from across the city vying for a spot at the competition proper set to take place at Erica Park in Belhar culminating in the finals at Athlone Stadium on Easter Monday April 1, 2024.

Cape Town Spurs and Grassy Park United line up at Athlone Stadium earlier this year. Spurs came in as champions but Grassy Park got the better of them with a 2-1 victory to lift the trophy. Picture: Fuad Esack

For now, the road to Erica Park starts here, at Solo Street, as the venue will play host to this weekend’s round of play-offs, as well as in December, followed by the remaining rounds set to be played in January, at various venues.

The organisers have indicated they’re taking a break from the end of the month till December to allow matriculants to focus on their final year exams.

Tournament director Rayaan Allie said they hope to wrap up the knock-out stage of the competition with the last round of play-offs at William Herbert sports ground in Wynberg, on Saturday and Sunday January 27 and 28 before its annual gala event in early February.

As per tradition, he said, the captain and manager from each club will be invited to attend, as well as all stakeholder representatives and delegates from local and national government, protocol guests and media. It’s at the official launch, Allie said, where the live fixture draw will take place, to determine group spots for all participants.

Tournament director Rayaan Allie, second from left, with, from left, Cape Town Spurs’ Dhakier Lee, Bayhill United chairman John Rangoli and Bayhill’s Chad Smith at this year’s tournament draw.

Between organising the play-offs, Allie and the Premier Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) have their hands full making sure everything is on track, despite facing a number of challenges.

“I’ve been part of the organising committee of the Bayhill Premier Cup in various capacities over the past 20 years. The biggest challenge I faced personally was to fill the shoes of our previous director PJ Williams, who had been in this role for over 30 years. I was part of a succession plan which was initiated around 15 years ago, and although I was involved with almost all tournament-related planning over the years it is still daunting to think that the responsibility of the biggest youth football competition in Africa is on your shoulders,” he said.

Grassy Park United’s Daniel Swain, left, and Spurs’ Denzel du Plessis tussle for possession during this year’s Bayhill Premier Cup final, at Athlone Stadium. Picture: Fuad Esack

“My primary role is to make sure that we host a successful event,” he said. “I am fortunate to have an amazing team who supports this cause and 80% of our organising committee has been involved with the event since its inception in 1989,” said Allie, who describes his role as being responsible for chairing its in-house weekly planning meetings and managing stakeholder relationships.

“A big part of my role is being the official event organiser for the tournament and making sure that all our legal and contractual obligations are met from an eventing perspective,” he said.

“The Bayhill Premier Cup has, since the inception of its play-offs more than 15 years ago, sought to expose the event to various communities around the Western Cape and the Cape Metro in particular,” said Allie.

“We have since been to Khayelitsha, Guguletu, Nyanga, Delft, Blue Downs, Maitland, Ottery, Manenberg, Mitchell’s Plain, Elsies River, Matroosfontein and Hanover Park,” he said.

Grassy Park United in celebratory mood following a 2-1 win against Cape Town Spurs, in this year’s Premier Cup final. Squads from across the city will have their chance to book their spots in the competition with the play-offs starting at Solo Street sports complex, in Steenberg, this weekend.

“The idea is to create visibility, accessibility and most importantly, opportunity for players within these communities who would otherwise not be able to gain access to the event. Many of our clubs still struggle with transport and other logistical challenges and although we may not be able to satisfy the needs of everyone, we are doing our bit to reach as many players as we can, one community at a time,” he said.

“This year will be the first time we go to the southern suburbs for play-offs as many of our participants are from this area. We thank the Solo Street Sports Complex management for accommodating us the up coming play-offs at their venue,“ Allie said.

“Having met an interacted with all our stakeholders in the past years made things slightly easier from a communications stand point. We planned to go to Athlone stadium for the first time in 2023, and since this was new territory for us the logistics of moving from Erica Park to Athlone on the final day was quite stressful.

“The biggest anxiety for me,” said Allie, “was not knowing how well we would supported. This being said, I have to thank the communities in Cape Town for their unwavering support. We managed to get 12500 people into the 20 000 capacity Athlone Stadium, which is unprecedented for a local amateur event.

“Furthermore, all this was done without a principal or naming rights sponsor which in the past carried a huge portion of the financial burden which comes with hosting an event of this scale. I therefore have to extended our extreme gratitude to the City of Cape Town, Vodacom, Score, Rylurx IT, Brand ON Agency, DCAS, WCSS and CARES for the manner in which they showed up at BPC 2023. It would be impossible to host this event without the support from our partners and sponsors and although I’ve thank them before, they have to be applauded for their respective contributions to football. So now, we move on to BPC 2024 and appeal for corporate involvement once again so we can take this showcase which is the Bayhill Premier Cup to an even higher level,” he said.

For more information and updates, visit or check out the tournament’s social media platforms.

The road to Erica Park and ultimately Athlone Stadium, starts at the Solo Street Sports complex at the weekend, as Bayhill Premier Cup organisers put the wheels in motion to ensure another bumper edition. Picture: Fuad Esack