Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Draw for the Danone Nations Cup World Finals puts South Africa in Group D

In a month’s time Siphumelele Primary School, from Inanda, Pinetown, KZN, will be playing their final Danone Nations Cup World Final football match in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Groupe Danone held a draw in Brazil this week which put South Africa in Group D with Mexico, Belgium and Indonesia.

The team won the right to travel to Brazil for this once in a lifetime experience by winning the Danone Nations Cup South Africa title and, according to their coach, Siboniso Ndwandwe, preparations are going well.

“After a short holiday the boys are now back at school and it is back to training,” said Ndwandwe. “The South African Schools Football Association has assigned us a qualified coach, Mr Yengwa, who comes twice a week and Neil Tovey (ex Bafana Bafana captain and Kaizer Chiefs player now tournament ambassador) will be visiting our school next week to give us a coaching session.  I have seen the draw and believe it is in our favour and we have a good chance of progressing to the next round.”

The school has also been given the use of a pitch to train on at nearby Nhlanhla Secondary School, which is in much better condition than their own community field, and they are getting assistance from sponsors Danone, who gave the school  over 40 000 cups of Ultramel yoghurt as well as 30 boxes of Muesli. 

“We were overwhelmed with all the product that Danone has given us.  Not only is it being used to help the team build stamina, strength and bone density in preparation for Brazil, but it is also feeding the entire school of over 1 000 pupils. Being in a rural community most of the children’s parents do not work and they rely on government grants and only eat one small meal a day.”

The KZN Department of Education will be hosting a send-off breakfast next Wednesday, which will be attended be the local government officials, the school’s Governing Body as well as the teachers and team. “They will be wishing us well and motivating us before we leave,” Ndwandwe said.

At this stage, it’s all about concentrating on the basics in training, the coach said. “We want to keep it simple and not over-complicate things for the players, so we are concentrating on the basic skills: defending attacking, ball possession and building up stamina,” he said.

“The boys have been consistent in their improvement and are mastering the basics. I can safely say that each player has improved tremendously on their performance at the nationals. They are also more disciplined.”

The excitement is building at the school and in the community ahead of the departure date. “Not a day goes by without the boys talking about going to Brazil and we have to try to keep them calm and focused on school work as they also need to do well in their final exams,” Ndwandwe said.

The coach is impressed with the team’s commitment and discipline. “It would be great to come back with the trophy, but I know that the competition will be tough and I tell the boys that it is all about having fun and they must make the most of this wonderful experience.  There are not many boys in rural areas that travel to other countries, specifically Brazil,” he said

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