16 July 2008
Bay United’s 2-1 win over FC AK in the promotional play-offs over the weekend has ensured that Port Elizabeth’s residents will get a taste of Premier Soccer League (PSL) action for the first time since the league’s inception.
It was quite an achievement for a team only in its third year of existence, with Volkswagen South Africa having bought the first division franchise Maritzburg United and relocated the team in order to bring professional football to the Eastern Cape city.
In a statement issued this week, the multinational carmaker, which has a plant in the metropolitan municipality, said their intention was to build a club capable of performing in the top flight by 2010, supported by a soccer academy.
“The coach, his committed team and support staff have done it two years ahead of plan,” said Volkswagen SA communications GM Bill Stephens. “Bay United’s performance on Sunday against FC AK at the Wolfson Stadium gives us great confidence for the club’s future as a top rated PSL side.”
Bringing soccer to PE
Having established Bay United in the first division, the company then decided to change its role to one of both a financial and vehicle sponsor – with ownership and management of the club being transferred to Izingwe Capital, a local black-owned and managed investment company.
“It was never our intention to own and manage a soccer club in the long term,” explained Stephens, adding that the company felt the investment was the quickest way of bringing soccer at the first division level to the metropolitan area.
“A further milestone in the rapid progress of Bay United was the appointment of coach Vladislav Heric, who has put together an outstanding squad of players who have now made the dream a reality,” said Stephens. “He has done a fantastic job to bring the team this far – but the job has just started!”
Stephens said that Volkswagen and Bay United remained committed to the development of soccer in the metro at grassroots level through its soccer Academy.
“This is a key commitment and a key part of the strategy to establish and sustain a PSL club in the metro,” said Stephens. “The Bay United Academy now overseas the training and development of over 100 young aspiring top league soccer players.”
Significantly, Bay United will hopefully adopt the metro’s new state of the art soccer stadium as its home for many years to come – with the long term sustainability of the new soccer stadium, currently under construction, being largely dependent upon having a PSL side with its home in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“We appeal to all people in the Eastern Cape who have a love for soccer and the region, to get behind Bay United and support our team in their 2008/9 PSL campaign which starts in a few weeks time,” Stephens said.
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