Thursday, June 11, 2015

Outsiders win the U19 Kay Motsepe Schools Cup Free State Lejweleputswa district finals

The Lejweleputswa district finals in the under-19 Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, sponsored by the Motsepe Foundation and Sanlam, produced a major surprise over the weekend when the competition’s most successful school, Harmony High of Virginia were eliminated.

They were beaten by Concordia High School of Theunissen, which means that the district will be represented by new school at the Free State provincial finals, and that Harmony will not be at the nationals this year.

Since Sanlam came on board as sponsors in 2010, and the prize money was hiked to a staggering R3.4 million per year, Harmony High has pocketed prize money every year.  They finished first in 2011, second in 2010, in 2012 and 2013 they took fourth position and in 2014 they took fifth position.  They also received the R100 000 prize money as provincial winners in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  In total they pocketed a cool R2.7 million they spent on legacy projects.

But not this year and according to Concordia’s manager/coach, Matlamedi Monapula, bundling them out of the tournament came down to his team having faith in themselves and not being intimidated by Harmony’s reputation.

“They won their 1st game 6-0, so it was natural that our players were worried about them, but I told them that there is no room for intimidation, the Harmony players are boys just like them,” he said. “Besides, they all play in the SAFA second division with their local teams and sometimes they do play against the Harmony players. After we had that pep talk I could see that the players were more confident in themselves and they played brilliantly. We played a fast-paced game so that they weren’t able to keep up with us. It was a pretty intense game, they fought very hard but we fought harder to make sure that we came up out on top.”

The highlight of the regional finals for the coach was beating Harmony. “We have been participating in this tournament for many years now. Last year we were knocked out during the regional finals, we came second in our stream. Each year we come back with a positive attitude ready for action and this year was no different,” he said.

The lead up has been very successful for the school. They have played 13 games now, and have won 11 and drawn 2. “The team has surprised me at how well they have been doing in this tournament,” Monapula said.

Monapula has been coaching since 2007 and believes that pace and stamina are important. “I believe that a team should play a fast-paced game, I want players that can’t be outrun by the opposition,” he said. “Beating Harmony has definitely made me even more confident in my coaching philosophy.”

This year’s team comprises the entire under-17 team with only two players from last year included. “I have been coaching these boys since they were 14 years old so they know each other well and are used to my style of doing things,” he said. “The boys are heading in the right direction and I believe that we will do well at the provincials.”

Now that the other schools see that Lejweleputswa is going to be represented by a different school other than Harmony they might think that they have the provincial title in the bag, Monapula said.

“But that will not be the case; I think that they should see us as stiff competition. We knocked out the most victorious school in this competition that should count for something. It should be a warning to other schools that Concordia High School means business.”

The coach sees HTS Louis Botha as their biggest competition. “I know they last qualified for the provincials in 2013 and finished in second position in the nationals and they are looking for a comeback so I think they might be a problem for us,” he said.

Results of the Lejweleputswa district playoffs:
Harmony 6 vs Monyakeng 0
Leseding 1 vs Aramela 0
Concordia 2 vs Harmony 1
Aramelo 0 vs Tikwana 6
Monyakeng 0 vs Concordia 4
Tikwana 5 vs Leseding 0

Final - Concordia 0  vs Tikwana 0 (Concordia won 4-2 on penalties).

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