Thursday, May 16, 2013


Nkosiyazi Nhleko is a 12-year old A student at Zandile Combined School located in Buffelspruit, near Malelane in Mpumalanga, and he is something special. He helped his school’s under-12 team to qualify for the Mpumalanga provincial finals in the Danone Nations Cup and should they win there, he will be making a trip to Johannesburg for the national finals in June. The winners there will be going to London in September to play in the Danone Nations Cup World finals. Nkosiyazi’s achievements are special because he is an orphan who lives at the Silwanendlala Home Based Care Centre.

He is one of a number of children at the home who have either been abandoned by their parents or have lost them at a tender age. Simphiwe Thwala, manager of the Zandile Combined School football team, explains that the community helps the children by donating school uniforms and delegating a team of people to cook and feed them. Thwala explains that many of the children at the school are orphans who survive on grants and feeding schemes at school, yet they choose to come to school and participate in the Danone Nations Cup tournament.

Nkosiyazi is just one of the players that Thwala will be looking at to perform at the provincial championships. The others are: goalkeeper, Lubisi Bandile; strikers Lubisi Siphosethu, Zama Nkosingphile and Sbiya Lungelo and midfielders Zulu Malizole and Ntokozo Fakudze. Lubisi Siphosethu's father was a famous striker for a local team called Nhlambanyathi Rovers FC and Lubisi has inherited his father's skills. Sbiya Lungelo's father was a defender for a team called Home Defender in the 80s.

Zandile Combined School has been participated in the Danone Nations Cup tournament for the last six years and this is the second time they have progressed to the provincial finals. “We are hoping to do even do better this year,” says Thwala, “but I am pleased with the boys for making it this far,”

Thwala says they are working hard ahead of the provincial finals. “We train for an hour and a half on Mondays and Fridays, and take advantage of our sports day on Wednesdays which we use to identify areas that need to be improved,” he said. Zandile Combined School has been going for 40 years andl offers sports like netball, soccer and indigenous games. “Our main focus is on encouraging kids to grow in sports regardless of the situations they face at home,” Thwala said.

Two of Zandile’s past students - Thembinkosi Vascus Ngwenya and Lucas Thwala went on to play for teams in the PSL. Thembinkosi is now playing for the Platinum Stars development team while Lucas Thwala plays for SuperSport United. Both players were hard workers who took part in the Danone Nations Cup as under-12s. Thwala says they sometimes come to help at the school by motivating the kids at school and even assist with training when they are free.

For Groupe Danone, the Nations Cup tournament is all about giving young players the opportunity to believe in their dreams. Through this initiative Danone offers a sporting event that reaches out to and inspires millions of children all over the world.

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