Sunday, April 24, 2016

Teachers gear up and improve their coaching knowledge as the 2016 Danone Nations Cup starts

Preparations are under way, throughout the country, for the opening rounds of the 2016 Danone Nations Cup tournament.

The under-12 soccer tournament is played, first, at local area level, with the successful schools progressing to regional playoffs and then provincial eliminators before the nine eventual provincial champions play in the national finals taking place in Gauteng in June.

For the national champions there is the prize of going to the world finals in France later this year.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Danone Nations Cup is that it brings organised soccer to the rural nooks and crannies where there is little by way of sport to occupy the youngsters.

The idea of progressing up the ranks in the competition gives the teams something to strive for and the ultimate prize of going overseas to play in the world tournament gives them something to dream about.

The coaches in those schools are invariably teachers who, while they may have played the game at some stage, have little by way of experience or qualifications.

Social media plays an important role here, with Facebook and the internet providing valuable insight into coaching and technical aspects of the game. The contact between schools that the Danone Nations Cup facilitates helps spread this learning around and the standard of soccer in these areas is uplifted.

A case in point is Khayalethu Primary School, of the Nkangala district in Mpumalanga, Coach Adam Mashiloame is the computer science teacher at the school, and he is new to the role of coaching.

He has been on the internet, though, and has come up with some ideas on individual skills and teamwork which he hopes to implement with the team.

“The players need to be able to, dribble a ball and communicate well with each other on the field. They need to understand that you can’t be selfish with the ball because it’s about team work,” he said. “They need to know that understanding the game will come with time and experience but it can also come from having an open mind and learning as much as you can every time you step on the soccer field.”

Khayalethu has been in the Danone Nations Cup before. In 2013 they came 2nd in the regional finals; in 2014 they were knocked out at district level; and last year they came 3rd in the regional finals.
It’s a record that Mashiloame hopes to improve on this year. They have 5 players back again this year, so there is some experience, especially in the form of Nhlanhla Sibanyoni, the captain. This is his third year in the tournament and his leadership will be important, Mashiloame believes.

“We have a mixture of new and old boys in the team so they need to have more practice sessions to get used to each other. It’s a first time experience for me too, but I am ready for the challenge of taking the players to the provincial finals.”

The school has challenges as far as facilities and equipment are concerned, but Mashiloame believes they can overcome them.

Nhlanhla Sibanyoni agrees “We are looking forward to the games starting. We are working hard and I think we are going to do well this year,” he said.


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