Friday, June 5, 2015

Umqhele High School wins a spot in the KZN Kay Motsepe Schools Cup provincial final

Clermont’s Umqhele High School took a big step towards a second consecutive appearance at the national finals of the under-19 Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, sponsored by the Motsepe Foundation and Sanlam, by winning the Pinetown District playoffs this week.

The school came second at the 2014 KwaZulu-Natal provincial finals to eventual national runners-up, Tholokuhle High School, which earned them a spot at the nationals, where they finished in 12th position.

They are now through to the KwaZulu-Natal provincial finals and according to their manager, Phenduka Mkhwanazi, 10 of last year’s players are back again this time, and with that experience in their ranks they are hoping to do better this time around.

“The team is used to this tournament and I guess that is why we have managed to win the district finals again,” Mkhwanazi said. “I am not saying that it was easy for us as there were new schools from our cluster participating but having gone all the way to the nationals last year helped my players as they knew what to expect.”

Last year’s nationals were an eye-opener, Mkhwanazi said. “We learned a lot from the other schools, especially from the two schools that played in the final game (Holy Trinity and Tholokuhle).

“We were impressed by our neighbouring school Tholokuhle, they represented the province very well last year we supported them, but they have been knocked out of the competition this year, so it’s their turn to support us.”

As they are going into the next stage with the majority of last year’s players still in the team, Mkhwanazi believes they are more experienced, more organised and, most importantly, they are hungry for success. “They saw what winning this tournament can do for players and the school and they want that to happen for them as well,” he said. “They know that all games should be taken seriously, they know that we have to take all our chances and win every game from now on.”

The main reason for competing in the tournament, Mkhwanazi said, is to give the boys exposure. “We know that talent scouts attend these tournaments to look for talent and the players need to use the opportunity to show what they can do.”

Two of the current players, the captain, Nkanyiso Zungu, and Thabani Mnguni were invited to the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy training camp last year and, although they didn’t make it through to the academy, Mkhwanazi said they now know that they need to work extra hard to make sure that they get called up again this year and hopefully get signed this time.

The team has the same coach - Sthembiso Ntuli – who has been coaching the school’s senior team for a number of years now. “He has worked very hard to make sure that the team develops and the players believe in him,” Mkhwanazi said.

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