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​The Kwa Mahlobo Games went down to the wire in a nail-biting final, but were won by a sudden death penalty shoot-out. Meadowlands Peace Makers came second.
ROCCO Barocco Football Club were crowned the champions of the annual Kwa Mahlobo Festive Games, after winning a heated battle with their rivals, Meadowlands Peace Makers, in the finals held on Sunday, 8 January.

Fans came out in numbers to watch the Kwa Mahlobo GamesFans came out in numbers to watch the Kwa Mahlobo GamesFootball fans wrapped up their holidays in style, watching a dream cup final between two of Meadowlands’ big teams at the Kwa Mahlobo Grounds in Meadowlands. Young and old, they came all out to support the game of football. Armed with camp chairs, umbrellas and cooler bags the crowd sat back and enjoyed the spectacle.

The two teams proved to be the best, rising up from 40 teams that participated in the games, which ran through the festive season. The atmosphere was alive, bringing together people of different races and affirming the notion that football was indeed the beautiful game.

Sparks flew from the first whistle of the final as the two teams locked horns, with a common objective of getting their hands on the R30 000 prize money and gaining the bragging rights. Popular nicknames in football such as The General, Ace and Sporo were screamed from the sidelines as fans cheered their favourite players.

Yet in spite of endless scoring opportunities, the match went into half-time goalless. But in the second half, ammunition was fired from all cylinders, with Peace Makers registering the first goal. After scoring that all-important goal, the game was in their hands – until they put their foot off the pedal, allowing Rocco back into the game to equalise in the dying minutes.

There is plenty of football talent at Kwa Mahlobo GamesThere is plenty of football talent at Kwa Mahlobo GamesFailing to get a winner in full time of play, it was down to the most painful way of deciding a game – penalty shootouts. The deadlock remained in the first set of penalties as the teams challenged each other equally. But it crumbled for Peace Makers when one of their penalties was denied by the opposition’s goal keeper in a sudden death play-off.

This put the game back in the hands of Rocco, who scored the last penalty, much to the delight of their fans. The field of play got invaded by dozens of supporters as celebrations began.

Watching the party atmosphere were officials from the provincial government and private institutions that sponsored the tournament. They included the Gauteng department of sports, arts and culture, De Beers and Strepsil. Former Bafana Bafana defender Bradley Carnel also attended the games.

Speaking on day, the acting manager of competitive sports in the department, Fana Mokoena, said: “This shows that if the private sector and government can work together, the dream of building better communities could turn into reality.

Rocco Barocco are the champions of the 2011/12 Kwa Mahlobo GamesRocco Barocco are the champions of the 2011/12 Kwa Mahlobo Games“So many people were partners in this tournament. The City of Johannesburg also helped us a lot in providing us with the sports ground. Without the facilities, this tournament would not have been possible,” he said.

After the Kwa Mahlobo Games for 2011/2012 was done and dusted, the top performers were awarded. Rocco Barocco FC received a cheque worth R30 000, three soccer kits, a gold trophy and 25 gold medals for their win.

Runners-up Meadowlands Peace Makers received a cheque of R10 000, three soccer kits, a silver trophy and 25 silver medals. Teams in the third and fourth positions each got R1 000, two soccer kits and a trophy.

In the individual awards, two Rocco players received the awards for best striker and best defender of the tournament – Daniel Cordoso and Sibusiso Mazibuko. Each got R1 000. Another Rocco player, Tshepo Dibakwane, scooped the leading goal scorer of the tournament award, pocketing R1 000.

Olebo Atong, one of the commentators, was also rewarded for excellent work, and supporters’ contributions were also recognised. Tshidiso Kgathe from Meadowlands Zone 5 got the award for the best supporter, winning R1 000.

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