Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A number of firsts in the Danone Nations Cup Free State provincial finals

The under-12 Danone Nations Cup Free State Provincials Finals, which take place on 12 April at the Clive Solomon Stadium, Bloemfontein, should prove interesting with a number of schools reaching this stage of the tournament for the first time and Credo Primary School, from Sasolburg, being the first team since the tournament began in 2000 to be coached by a female, Mrs Dikeledi Sothwane.

Credo Primary has been participating in the Danone Nations Cup for a number of years but was always knocked out at the cluster level.  Sothwane credits the win to the new team she has selected and a change in the coaching style.  “This year I have a totally new team and I can see that the boys are driven, dedicated and play soccer with passion."

“Further, this year I decided to involve the kids in the coaching, for example, I get them to help me come up with new warm up exercises and they can decide what they want to work on at each practice session.  I have noticed that they have more interest in the game. So much so that they start training before I even arrive at the training grounds, they are truly dedicated," said Sothwane.

Sothwane began coaching 8 years ago after growing up with an interest in the game. 'Its not difficult being a woman in a man's game," she said. "The male coaches that I have come across actually commend me for taking on such a demanding and stressful job and they see me as a coach regardless of me being female."

Wistieshoek Primary School's, from Phuthaditjhaba, has been participating in the Danone Nations Cup for the past four years and, like Credo, they have qualified for the provincial for the first time. 

Team manager, Zwelibanzi Zimu, is proud of the boys; "It has been our dream to progress further in this tournament and we have achieved this," Zimu said. "I have a strong, experienced team this year and I think they can do exceptionally well and get all the way to the national finals," Zimu said.

Letsibolo Primary School of Wesselsbron is another school playing in the provincial finals for the first time. Their manager, Vilembo Molefi, says reaching this level is a huge achievement for the school and the team. "We hosted the regional finals and the community came in numbers to support our team which helped us win through to the provincials," he said.

Midfielder, Bohlokwa Matsipe, who joined the team this year, is one of Letsibolo’s top players.
"The Danone Nations Cup is a lot of fun,” said Matsipe.  “I have really enjoyed meeting players from other schools.  My game has improved with the new coach.  I train hard every day, listen to instructions and improve wherever I need to improve. My dream is to play professionally so I will continue to play well in every game that I play in so that I can be scouted and go into an academy. I think if Im associated with an academy I will have a better chance of playing soccer for a professional team."

The schools that will compete in the Free State Danone Nations Cup finals are:
• Credo Primary-Fezile Dabi District
Witsieshoek Primary-Thabo Mofutsanyane District
• Letsibolo Primary-Lejweleputswa District
• Bolokehang Intermediate School-Motheo District
• Meqheleng Primary-Thabo Mofutsanyane District

   Luckoff Primary -Xhariep District.

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