Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Upington’s AJ Ferreira High School made history in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup

Upington’s AJ Ferreira High School made history this weekend. After competing in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup soccer competition for years, without ever advancing beyond the cluster stage of the tournament, they not only reached the provincial finals, but went on to win and now get to compete in the national finals.

AJ Ferreira beat veterans, Okiep High School 3 – 1 to be crowned provincial champions and the win earns them  R100 000 to be used to fund legacy projects for the school. Both Okiep and AJ Ferreira progress to the national finals happening at the Giant Stadium, Soshanguve from 5 – 9 October and get a chance to win the R1 million first prize.

An exuberant coach, Monty Swaartbooi, was delighted at, what he said, was a long overdue win, but admitted it was also unexpected. “Every year we go into the tournament with the hope of progressing through to the provincials.  This year was different as every member of the team was new to the tournament and I did not think that we would progress very far, so this is a surprise.  The players rose to the occasion and proved me wrong.  I thought that Okiep and Rietvale would beat us because they have more experience and have been successful at this level before.”

Swaartbooi was surprised at how easy it was to get into the provincials. “We only played three games in our cluster and won them all,” he said. “And I honestly thought that we would finish last at the provincials, but I must give credit to my team who showed guts and determination.  We even beat Okiep convincingly in the final game.”

Swaartbooi is not sure what the school will do with their winnings as it will be the principal and the SGB to decide, but he does say they need a proper field and training equipment, and there are lots of broken windows and doors in the school building that also need fixing.

So, now it’s down to preparing for the nationals and Swaartbooi says they will stick to their programme of training four times a week and playing friendlies against local teams on Fridays. 

He also knows that some of the teams at the nationals will be academies and wants to bring in outside coaches to help him prepare tactically and technically. “I coach for the love of the game and have no qualifications and if we are to prepare properly I am going to have to seek support from coaches at our local clubs,” he said. 

Winning the provincial title has been the most rewarding outcome of the coach’s career. “To have finally made it fills my heart with pride.
And it doesn't end with playing soccer. “Another reason I started coaching soccer was to keep the learners away from the bad influences that are prevalent in our community so I also act as their adviser.  I always tell the players to work hard in everything that they do, be it soccer, school work or in their personal lives,” Swaartbooi said. “Putting in the extra work will always bring positive results. They now know and understand why they have to put in 110% into their training.”

Pitso Jantjie 0 vs. Rietvale 2
Bongani 0 vs. AJ Ferreira 2
Rietvale 0 vs. Okiep 0
AJ Ferreira 2 vs. Bongani 0
Okiep 4 vs. Pisto Jantjie 0
AJ Ferreira 3 vs. Okiep 1 

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