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UYANDA MSOMI: MAMELODI SUNDOWNS FIFA ’23 CHAMPIONSHIP’S YOUNGEST Uyanda taking on his competition during the FIFA tournamentAuthor: Kamokgelo MalingaPhotos: Mettlestate MediaWith the exponential growth of gaming across the globe, there is no doubt that the youth have taken a keen interest into the world of gaming and esports.According to Games Industry Africa (GIA) Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the fastest-growing gaming region in the world with South Africa leading the gaming industry in Africa with the highest saturation of gamers, as 24 million people play video games within a population of 59m (40%).This is why it was critical for Mamelodi Sundowns to get into FIFA23, opening the doors to a world that would enable the club to capture the gaming market. As part of their celebration to achieve this milestone, Mamelodi Sundowns partnered up with Mettlestate and brought to life a massive FIFA23 tournament as the clubs first project in the eSports industry.
The tournament which took place in November and December 2022 consisted of online qualifiers and live qualifiers at various cities across the country. With a prize pool of R200,000 that attracted professional FIFA eSports gamers, the greatest story to emerge from the tournament was that of Uyanda Msomi, a 14-year-old gamer from Umlazi, Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN). The youngest qualifier for the finals representing the KZN province and the biggest surprise of the tournament spoke to the Mamelodi Sundowns Digital Magazine crew about his experience competing against the best FIFA players in the country which was held at rAge at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.
“The atmosphere during the finals had high energy compared to what I experienced at the Puma store in Gateway. The crowd was cheering and shouting which was great as a participant because it boosted my confidence, especially during the second match when I was taking on the national FIFA eSports champion,” said Msomi as he described his quarterfinal experience at the Mamelodi Sundowns stand. Uyanda with his father, his number one supporterKaylan Moodley, who ended up winning the Mamelodi Sundowns tournament and who has also represented South Africa at international eSports FIFA tournaments, was Msomi’s competitor during the Quarterfinals. Although he may have lacked experience on a global level, the 14-year-old didn’t let him derail his focus and nearly managed to beat the experienced gamer, “My opponent played well and took the title of the tournament but I did get a chance to have my comeback during the second match. I fought hard to win the third match but my opponent was already leading during the first half. Although I wasn’t able to win the last match, I still think that I played well.” The 14-year-old gamer shared that he started playing FIFA when he was just six years old, which has allowed him to work on and improve his skills throughout the years.
Present at the Expo and flown from KZN were Uyanda’s parents who supported and cheered for their son during the course of the tournament. Uyanda’s parents shared that they bought him a PlayStation console when he showed interest in the game.
His father Mr Bongani Msomi delightedly revealed that they fully support Uyanda with his FIFA gaming ambitions, however, because he is only 14-years old, they have laid out rules for him to still focus on his school work before he thrills himself with gaming. Bongani Msomi further expressed that as Uyanda’s parents, they are proud of him to have come as far as he did in the championship which, in their eyes, makes him a winner.
Being only in Grade 8 and already competing in an EA FIFA Championship with professional gamers, Uyanda revealed that he would also love to pursue a career as a professional. With his parent’s full support the youngster aspires to participate in more championships in the future. Mamelodi Sundowns Chairman, Tlhopie Motsepe who was at the finals shared his insights on the experience and the clubs advance into eSports, “This tournament was exciting especially because we were learning a vast amount about gaming and the eSports industry. It was refreshing to see young people coming in and trying their luck. It is important for us a football club to support young people and give them opportunities in a variety of football disciplines including the eSports world.”
He added that this particular venture has taught the club that eSports has different opportunities for the youth, “When you have events like these it is a chance for us to give young people jobs beyond just empowering the eSports players, but also giving commentators and those that assist in putting the event together some work.” He further voiced that the Mettlestate team assisted the club in understanding that gaming can be a fulltime career and that the club wants to encourage growth of eSports within the communities. Interviews after Uyanda received his medal After the success of the first ever Mamelodi Sundowns EA FIFA23 tournament, the Chairman revealed that the club would love to host another competition in the future in order to harvest young talent like Uyanda and inspire the youth to potentially make a career within the eSports field.