Friday, September 22, 2017

WF - opening ceremony is over games about to start

The final preparations are over, the opening ceremony is done and, for the under-12 soccer team from Mophela Primary School, it all kicks off late on Friday (SA time) when they take on the representatives from the United Arab Emirates in their first game at the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in New York City.

On Thursday the team trained with the team from Algeria, and played a practice game against them, and felt the effects of jetlag for the first time in their young lives.

The training session started relatively well but as it progressed they found their bodies would not respond as they normally do. As a result, they lost the practice match 3-1, with the boys complaining that their legs were heavy.

Later in the day, the boys got to meet kids from other countries and eventually started playing little games with them. They started to get over their jetlag and found it easier and easier to play football as the day went on.

The teams from England and UAE arrived in New York on the 21st, a day later than team South Africa, and they really struggled to train. The South African team could see that they too are suffering from jetlag and will struggle in their opening games, so they have to take advantage of that when they meet them on Friday.

Their other opponents, Indonesia, arrived on the same day as team South Africa, but they did not have as far to travel and when they trained on Thursday they showed how good they are. Team South Africa have already identified their best player and have got plans in place to try to counteract him.

The team is full or confidence and is ready for the action to start. Their first objective is to win their first match then they will look at the second match to make sure that they qualify for the top half of the draw.

Only then will they think about winning their group. They will be taking the tournament one game at a time.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

‘Now is calling’ for cricket development

Audi, the Progressive Partner to the Proteas, has unveiled the Audi Q5 Fast Track, a new development initiative aimed at unearthing the next crop of great South African fast bowlers.  The initiative will be run in conjunction with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and will be the first to utilise state-of-the-art technology to assess and identify previously untapped talent from disadvantaged areas.  The programme will be powered by a fleet of Audi Q5s which will be taking Audi’s ‘Bowling Lab’ technology to locations around South Africa over the coming month. 

“The Audi Q5 Fast Track is an innovative and very exciting concept for South African cricket,” commented CSA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat. “It is well known that the Proteas have been blessed over the years with a wonderful array of fast bowlers like Allan Donald, Brett Schultz, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini among the former greats and Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Chris Morris among the current stars.

“It goes without saying that we need to maintain our leadership in this field if we are to remain among the world’s best cricket playing nations.

“It is fitting that we are partnering with Audi who have a long-standing reputation for speed, efficiency, technical innovation and all-round excellence,” Mr. Lorgat concluded.

As Progressive Partner to the Proteas, Audi developed the ‘Bowling Lab’, a set-up which utilises state of the art PitchVision technology to instantly analyse a bowler’s performance by comparing pace, line, length, deviation and bounce to that of a current Proteas bowler.  It is this technology which will assist the Audi Q5 Fast Track team in their aim of unearthing hidden bowling gems.

The team tasked with identifying and unlocking the potential of talented young bowlers will be made up of some of the most prominent individuals in South African development cricket.  They will be led by ex-Protea speedster and development guru Mfuneko Ngam. Ngam will be joined by CSA appointed coaching experts including former Proteas bowler Victor Mpitsang. 

 “’Now is calling’ for the vast array of unidentified bowling talent across our country,” said Ngam.  

“I am really excited to be a part of an initiative aimed at giving young boys and girls who would otherwise never have had the opportunity a chance to be noticed.  To have the ability to utilise world class technology in disadvantaged communities will be a watershed moment in helping us select the right kids to get them into CSA development structures.  I can’t wait to see the talent we will discover, together with Audi, over the coming month.” 

The Audi Q5 Fast Track will be visiting locations across Gauteng, Limpopo, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape over a one-month period with the first event taking place at Kagiso Cricket Club on 23 September 2017. 

Trevor Hill, head of Audi South Africa, concluded, “Audi is proud to be able to support CSA in driving cricketing progress through the technology of the Audi Bowling Lab and the new Audi Q5.  As progressive partner to the Proteas, we strive to bring exciting and innovative programmes and initiatives to the team, fans and customers with the aim of progressing the cricket experience.  In line with that aim, we are now very excited to take our existing initiatives a step further by assisting CSA in progressing cricket as a whole through the Audi Q5 Fast Track.” 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The under-12 boys from KZN are counting down the days to their one-in-a-lifetime experience of playing football in New York City.

The boys from Mophela Primary School are counting down the days until they leave for one of the biggest cities in the world, New York City, to compete in the biggest soccer tournament for kids between 10 and 12 years old in the world, the Danone Nations Cup world finals.  The tournament kicks-off in a week’s time with 32 countries competing for the world title.

The team from Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal, leaves for the USA on Tuesday.  There is a lot of excitement and there is also some trepidation in the camp.

Team coach, Siyabonga Ndimande, says the enormity of what is about to transpire has hit home.  “Not only are we representing KZN but we are representing the country which just adds more pressure.  I now know how the Bafana Bafana, Springbok and Proteas coaches must feel before a tournament.”

The team attended a send-off function put on by the Mayor of eThekweni, councillor Zandile Gumede, on Thursday, 14th September and will travel to Johannesburg on Sunday, 17th September where they will have two final training sessions with the Bidvest Wits development coaches (Sunday and Monday afternoons) before boarding the plane on Tuesday, 19th September.

“I believe that we have done enough to ensure the team is ready,” said Ndimande.  “Their spirits are high and they are excited about this once in a lifetime experience.  The training sessions with the Bidvest Wits coaches will help us with our final touch ups and will also give us insight into preparing for international tournaments.”

What the boys are looking forward to, above the football, is their first airplane trip, eating different foods, seeing the sights of New York, getting to understand different cultures and most importantly making as many friends as possible, explained Ndimande.

“We have been told that the kids from the other countries could well be taller and stronger than us and so to prepare we have been playing against the under-13 and under-15 teams from St Bay FC - a local NFD club – and I asked their coach, Spha Shabalala, to tell them not to go easy on us as we must learn to handle the physical challenge up ahead,” said Ndimande.

Coach Shabalala has been helping Ndimande at training sessions and has shared some very important ideas with the team.  They have also been training at the Mpumalanga stadium so that they can get used to playing on smooth, well-grassed fields, something they do not have at home.

This is a dream come true and Ndimande thanks the sponsors for it. “There is nothing to equal boys from the rural areas going all the way to the USA and playing football in a massive stadium with 32 countries.  That would never have been possible without Danone and we are grateful to them.”