The Bay Hill Premier Cup as we know it today started out as an under 19 knock-out competition known as the Bayhill Cup and has steadily grown into one of the world's most prestigious junior tournaments.
The inaugural tournament was held at the Rocklands Sports Ground in Mitchells Plain and was won by Matroosfontein. The first team from outside of the Western Cape to participate in the tournament was Park United who hailed from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The Manchester School side, who came all the way from England, was the first international team to enter way back in 2001.
In 1995, Metropolitan took over the sponsorship and the tournament was renamed the Metropolitan Premier Cup. This sponsorship lapsed in 2016 and the tournament was renamed to its current guise of Bay Hill Premier Cup.
Well over 30 00 people were present for the 25th anniversary of the tournament. Hopefully this year will see an increase in the number of spectators who pass through the gates.
As the most talented young players from around the country will be putting in an appearance, the tournament is the perfect venue for the talent scouts, managers and administrators to see the next generation of stars in action.
A number of PSL and Bafana Bafana regulars all got their start in the Bay Hill Premier Cup. Players like Benni McCarthy, Shaun Permall, Ayanda Patosi and Thulani Serero have all taken part at one time or the other. "For me, one of the best players to come out of the competition is Nasief Morris, formally of Santos and now a Bafana Bafana regular playing for Panathinaikos". Mr PJ Williams, the current tournament director, who has been involved with the tournament since its inception, said back in 2005 of the impressive South African centre back.
A number of match officials have used the Bay Hill Premier Cup as a stepping stone to go on to better things. Top PSL referee, Jerome Damon, immediately springs to mind, while the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim and Nicky Haupt also graced the competition.
Coaches have also gained valuable experience at the event. Colin Gie managed to win the tournament a record 4 times while with Hellenic.
The tournament proper is played over the Easter weekend at Erica Park in Belhar. This year the first matches kick off on the Wednesday, 12th April 2017, with the official opening taking place on Friday, 14th April 2017.
A total of 32 teams participate in the group stage which consists of 8 groups of 4 teams each. Teams are seeded according to their previous performance and whether they are an established PSL team or a top-level foreign team.
The top 2 teams of each group qualify for the winners section of the knock-out round. The third placed teams are placed in the plate section knock-out round, while the fourth placed team will be eliminated from the competition.
The last sixteen losers from the winners section play in the quarter-finals of the Dullah Omar Mid-section competition. The three tiers of the competition then progress through the quarter finals, the semi-finals and the final.
The winner's section semi-finals are played on Easter Sunday, with the three finals being played on Easter Monday. The tournament concludes with the awarding of the player, team and coaching awards, which will be followed by the crowning of the year's Bay Hill Premier Cup under 19 champions.