Cape Town - The Premier of the Free State Sefora Ntombela has paid tribute to Free State Stars for emerging as winners of the 2017/18 Nedbank Cup final after recording a 1-0 victory over Maritzburg United on Saturday.
Ea Lla Koto made history by being the first Free State team to win the tournament.
Since the 2008/09 season until 2016/17, no team from outside Gauteng has ever won the Nedbank Cup.
"We honour Free State Stars for the history they have made," the Premier said in jubilation.
"Our efforts to assist local sport has indeed borne fruits. We are proud of Ea Lla Koto."
In May 2017, the Free State Provincial Government extended support of R2 million cash boost to both Bloemfontein Celtic and Stars, the only Free State soccer teams currently competing in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
At the time, the two teams were facing tough relegation battles in the Absa Premiership, and the Free State Provincial Government took a conscious, unprecedented move to advance that financial boost, in an effort to assist these teams to survive their relegation woes.
As part of the cash boosts, both teams entered into Service Level Agreements with the provincial government, to ensure that there was proper monitoring of expenditure against performance.
"We are happy that our support to the two teams is bearing fruits, contrary to criticisms we received at the time," Ntombela continued saying.
"Thanks to our support, as well as the support by the people of the Free State, both teams survived relegation in the previous PSL seasons, and now one of the teams, Free State Stars, has won one of the country’s premier soccer tournaments; the Nedbank Cup.
"We reaffirm our position that, working together, we can do more. We congratulate Free State Stars on their historic victory."
The Free State Provincial Government remains convinced that through sport, we can enhance social cohesion, encourage healthy lifestyles, and develop a better nation.