Monday, March 14, 2016
DNC registrations close and schools from vastly differing backgrounds will compete for a trip to France
One of the great things about the Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament is that it reaches every corner of the land, and now that registrations for the 2016 event have closed it’s apparent that a wide range of schools will be playing again this year.
Some of them are from affluent urban areas, where fields and facilities are not a problem, others are from the solid middle class areas, and others are located in the poorest rural communities where finding the time and space to participate in sport is a struggle.
Yet, getting children out into the open and involved in organised activities is an important part of their education, and tournaments like the Danone Nations Cup provide an opportunity for them to move out of their limited surroundings and experience new things.
Thornville Primary, located near Pietermaritzburg is one of the rural schools. It’s an old school - 82 years old – located in an area where there are many orphans and child-headed households and survival depends on child grants and school feeding schemes.
Thornvilles principal, Ranesh Chowthee, heard about the Danone Nations Cup at a local district circuit meeting and recognised the opportunity to show the pupils that there are many opportunities out there and there is always something to look forward to.“ It can encourage kids to come and play soccer as exercise is extremely important to the overall wellbeing of any kid,” he said.
Chowthee stresses that the school’s focus is on academics and so the team was selected on the basis of the boys’ commitment to both sport and academics.
The team is coached by Bheki Dladla, a teacher at the school. He believes that the tournament is important as the boys will be exposed to players from other schools and they will be able to learn new soccer skills and how to interact with other kids from different backgrounds.
“It’s our first year of entering, so we are new to the competition, but we are hoping to at least get into the provincial finals,” he said.
Dladla is hoping Mbongeni Mchunu, his key player, will help them achieve that. “He was abandoned as a baby and lives with an unemployed aunt, but has a positive and energetic attitude to life,” Dladla said. “No matter what the adversity he has the ability to bounce back and see the positive side and has the drive to do better and achieve great things in his life.”
Mchunu is a prefect and one of the top academics in the school. He prides himself as a poet and is often given the platform at assembly to recite these. He will captain the side and dreams of going all the way in the competition.
The winners of the national title will be going to the world finals in France. A trip like that is something worth striving for and although it won’t be easy, Mchunu said it is a boost for the team, and something that is getting the players to develop their passion for the game.
Mchunu said he would like to be a doctor one day and come back to the village and help the community – but he wouldn’t mind if he was scouted and landed up playing for his favourite club, Orlando Pirates.
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