Friday, August 21, 2015

Orlando Pirates youngster recalls his Danone Nations Cup world final experience

Young Siyanda Ngubo’s international football career started when he was just 12 years old when he represented Bree Primary School in the 2008 Danone Nations Cup world finals in France.  Since then he has been with the Orlando Pirates development academy and has played for the under 17, under 19 and Bafana Bafana national teams.

Siyanda is now 19 years old and a bright football future awaits him.   He is currently on loan to Royal Eagles in Durban for the season before returning to Orlando Pirates.  “Soccer is everything to me.  I have played with and against great players and have been coached by great coaches.  It has been an interesting and exciting journey since my Danone Nations Cup days and I look forward to what the future holds.  I am hoping to get in more play time when I get back to Orlando Pirates.”

Siyanda looks back fondly on his year at Bree Primary and his trip to France and admits it played a huge part in his development as a player.  “The world finals opened my eyes to the opportunities there are out there and helped build my confidence.”

His road to football success began humbly.  “I used to play soccer in the streets of Kwamakhutha in Durban with my friends,” he said. “Then when I was 9 years old my friends and I decided to join the local club in the area, Young Boys.”

His coach at the time was Mlungisi Mchunu who saw the potential in the youngster and in 2007 took some of the boys to Johannesburg to attend trails at Orlando Pirates. “We were there for a week. Then a week after being home I received the call from Mandla Qhoki of Orlando Pirates development who informed me that I should start packing because Orlando Pirates wanted to sign me for their Academy.”

In January 2008 Siyanda joined Bree Primary on a scholarship.  “I will never forget that year. It was the year that I got signed to the academy and the year that I got to travel internationally for the very first time,” Siyanda said.

“I could not believe that I was joining the very club that I loved so much.  Being a part of the academy was inspirational.  We interacted with the first team and got to travel and play soccer. My first trip was to France and that experience helped me decide that football was going to be my life no matter what. This shaped and paved my soccer career and I will forever be grateful for both Danone and Orlando Pirates.”

Siyanda remembers every minute of the trip to France.  One of the highlights was seeing the Eiffel tower.  “We would also sing when we got out of our buses, before a match and even after a game. All countries loved us, they loved hearing us sing, and we won the trophy for team spirit at the end of the tournament.”

After completing primary school Siyanda went to Johannesburg Secondary School where he matriculated.

In 2011, at age 15, he was selected to be a part of the SA under-17 national team. “It was my first call up and I was honoured to wear the national jersey, I wore it with pride because I worked very hard to get selected. We played qualifying games for the u-17 African Championship but unfortunately we didn’t qualify.”

In 2012 he was selected for the SA u-20 national team that won the Cosafa Cup, and in 2014 Orlando Pirates signed Siyanda and loaned him to a North West team called NW Shining Stars who participate in the ABC Motsepe League.

He was there for one year and that same year got his first senior national call up.

“When Shakes Mashaba was coaching us as under 20’s he always said that if we play well and work hard we will get more call ups. So when I was selected I knew that it was because I was working hard and it showed, Shakes credits hard workers and gives them a chance,” Siyanda said.

He played in the SA senior team during the Nelson Mandela challenge. “I learned so much from all the players that I played with. They knew that it was my first time and they gave me advice and just told me to play and forget about the nerves.”

Siyanda has some advice for the Bree team that has qualified for the Danone Nations Cup world finals happening in Morocco in October.  “Firstly I want to congratulate the team for reaching the World Finals.  It is not an easy achievement I know how hard it is. My advice would be to just play the soccer that they know best and they should not try to imitate what other countries are doing.

“Scoring goals early in the games is very important.  They must relax, be focused and remember to have fun, make friends and enjoy Morocco.”

About Danone
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

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