Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gauteng school hopes to repeat their Danone Nations Cup past success

Johannesburg’s Bree Primary School will always be remembered as the school that won an under-12 Danone Nations Cup world title for South Africa.

In 2010 they won the world finals at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, after the previous year’s tournament in Brazil was held over because of the worldwide outbreak of H1N1 influenza (swine flu). So, they are the official 2009 Danone Nations Cup world champions, and they represented South Africa in the 2008 world finals in France as well.

They will be trying to relive those glory days this year and the first step will be on Saturday 14th June at Reiger Park’s WJ Clements Stadium when they play in the Gauteng provincial finals of the competition. Games kick-off at 9am.  Gauteng is the final province to host their finals with the nine provincial winners going on to compete in the national finals on 28 June to determine the school to represent South Africa at the World Finals in Brazil.

Bree Primary School’s principal Devanand Kalicharran is also the team’s manager. He recalls 2010 fondly. “We were happy that we won this prestigious tournament at home with our supporters cheering us on. The Danone Nations Cup changed the lives of the 2008 and 2009 players; travelling abroad, being in newspapers, doing interviews, meeting our legendary past president, Mr Nelson Mandela and meeting kids from all around the world showed them they can achieve anything that they want to achieve in life,” he said.

Kalicharran puts the success of those teams down to hard work. “You need to work hard in order to obtain maximum results and that’s what the 2008 and 2009 teams did,” he said. “Both teams were made up of determined individuals who wanted to bring change to the school and I guess sharing the same goal made it possible for us to win even though it was not easy.”

Kalicharran says he tries to keep in touch with some of those players. Some are still studying at high school and others are at university. “Our captain of the winning team in 2009 was Njabulo Magubane who is currently studying and he plays for the South African under- 19 team.  He regularly comes to the school and helps us with coaching. He does motivational talks with the students, especially with the aspiring soccer players at the school,” Kalicharran said.

The current Bree Primary team has been groomed since 2012 and have done well so far this year. “Playing in the districts was tough but we managed to pull through all those games,” Kalicharran said. “We need to focus on our strikers and mid fielders, they need to create more chances and score goals. I believe that they are capable of repeating what the 2008 and 2009 teams did.”

Bafana Dlamini, who coached the 2009 world champion team, is still in charge of the team. “The team’s progress has been due to his excellent coaching skills and he strongly believes that this team could well win the title for the school, ´ said Kalicharran. “We are both very passionate about soccer and about making a difference in the lives of these boys. That’s why we enter this tournament because we know that it will have a huge impact in their lives and on their soccer careers.”

Kalicharran is reluctant to single out individual players. “The entire team is brilliant; I can’t single out one specific player as they play as a united front. I appreciate their dedication, they are young but their attitude is that of professional players.”

The schools participating in the Gauteng provincial finals are:
Bree Primary School-Johannesburg South region
Lotus Primary School- Tshwane West region
Sihluziwe Primary-Gauteng North region
Sonqoba Primary-Ekurhuleni South region
Faramere Primary-Ekurhuleni North region
Matlhasedi Primary-Gauteng West
Arcon Park Primary-Sedibeng East

Nationwide Primary-Johannesburg South

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