Friday, April 29, 2016

Soweto Rivals compete for the Danone Nations Cup Regional Title

When the Soweto regional playoffs in under-12 Danone Nations Cup get underway this year they are going to feature a mini Soweto derby that has something of the passion and intensity of the legendary Orlando Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs clashes.

Ekuphemeleni Primary School of Jabulani, Soweto and Usindo Primary of Zondi Soweto, have a longstanding rivalry in netball, athletics and soccer and clashes between the two schools are always well attended and they generate a lot of interest.

Ekuphemeleni has had the upper hand recently – they beat Usindo in netball and athletics last year, and knocked them out of the Danone Nations Cup.

Usindo, however, has already won the athletics meeting this year, and are looking to turn the table in netball and soccer as well. The Danone Nations Cup gives them the opportunity to start that process.

Ekuphemeleni coach and manager, Jabu Ndlovu said it’s great to see the competitiveness among the players of the two schools. “They only meet once during the soccer season. And we will have to be prepared mentally and physically because this is one of the biggest tournaments, and an opportunity to travel to France for the world finals.”

Ekuphemeleni has been participating in the Danone Nations Cup since 2011 after watching the world finals that year at the Orlando Stadium.

Ndlovu chose his team in November last year and they have been training ever since. “It’s important to work with the class teachers at the school,” he said. “It’s important to know how the players are doing in the classroom as this will affect them on the soccer pitch.”

The team at Usindo Primary School is managed by twins: Lungelo Nala, the coach, and Mrs Nomalungelo Mooi, the team manager.

The school has been taking part in the tournament since 2014 but they have not managed to make it past district level. Like Ekuphemeleni, they have been in training since last year and are hoping to turn the tables on their Soweto rivals in the tournament. 

Nala is always amazed at how the players, who are shy and quiet in class, become transformed on the soccer field. “They start to express themselves, it’s as if we are dealing with different learners,” he said.

It’s the first time that Mooi and Nala are together with the team and they are looking forward to the challenge. The team is training three times a week at this stage.

Mooi said the build up to matches against Ekuphemeleni is always hectic because of the traditional rivalry. “The whole school becomes involved and comes to watch the games,” she said.

Nala believes tournaments like the Danone Nations Cup are important because they allow the kids to expose other talents.” Some learners aren’t academically gifted so their self-esteem goes down and they feel like they are not important. Sport is important because it can boost confidence and build personality,” he said.

“And the Danone Nations Cup is very important to some communities like ours where there is a high rate of crime and many drop out of school. Most of the learners don’t have much to look forward to once they get home, but they do have soccer to concentrate on now.”


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