Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Teams invited to participate in the Danone Nations Cup for the first time
The under-12 Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament is in its 15th year now and, the organisers – the SA Schools Football Association (SASFA) - and the sponsors have decided to try something new in order to broaden the reach of what is already the biggest soccer competition for kids between 10 and 12 in the land.
This year, in a pilot project, four schools in each of the KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng provinces will be invited to the provincial finals playoffs, to compete with the teams that have qualified through the system of cluster, district and regional playoffs.
The invited schools are all traditional soccer institutions who have never entered the Danone Nations Cup in the past and who follow their own soccer programmes in their particular local areas.
So far, the four schools that will be playing with the 12 provincial winners in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial finals at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont on Saturday May 16th have been announced. They are: Highbury Preparatory School, Westville Senior Primary School, Pinetown Senior Primary and New Germany Primary School.
Highbury Preparatory School is 112 years old and is a boys-only school. They offer a range of sports and excel in athletics, cricket, hockey, rugby, swimming, hockey having produced many sports stars that have gone on to play their particular sport at a provincial level.
Sport is compulsory at the school and the students have to participate in at least one sport each term.
Mr Knowledge Vilakazi, the team’s manager, said that competing in the Danone Nations Cup is exciting and motivational for the soccer players. “We compete in our local leagues and play friendly matches against our neighbours and this opportunity is now taking soccer in our school to a different level.”
The entire school is buzzing about being given this opportunity and Vilakazi says he has suddenly seen an increase in the number of students that now want to play soccer. “We are looking forward to participating and it has increased the awareness of soccer in the school.”
Vilakazi admits that, besides the other three invitational teams, who they play against, he doesn’t know a lot about the other 12 teams he will be facing. “I have been following the tournament from a distance and I must congratulate Danone on a great job they are doing in getting the kids involved in sport. By participating in this tournament we are exposing the kids to competitive soccer at a higher level and also to different styles and skills,” Vilakazi said. It’s going to be a great experience for the team and they will learn a lot from other schools.”
Those views are echoed by Westville Senior Primary School coach Yagenderan Pillay.
Sport is a high priority at the school and they have 7 cricket teams, 12 rugby teams and 13 soccer teams. Cricket and rugby have traditionally been the high priority sports but over the years soccer has grown dramatically.
Pillay is eager to see how it goes in the Danone Nations Cup and this will help him decide whether to participate in the tournament on a regular basis in the future.
The players at Westville are all involved in other sports, so they only get to train 1 hour every day, but that has been increased now that the provincial finals are coming up.
“We want our kids exposed to playing with other schools, so we are thrilled that we were invited to participate this year. The players are really looking forward to playing at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, it’s a huge stadium and they want to see themselves on that field.
“They know about the possibility of going to Morocco, the ultimate prize for the eventual national champions, and they are eager to win the provincial title and travel to Gauteng for the national finals,” concluded Pillay.
Danone Southern Africa is part of the Danone Group, one of the fastest-growing food companies in the world. Danone is present in over 120 countries across all continents. With 160 plants and around 100,000 employees, the Danone Group is the number one worldwide for Fresh Dairy Products. Danone’s mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible.
One of the core values of the Danone Nations Cup tournament is to encourage young people 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