Thursday, May 19, 2016
Eastern Cape School soccer teams play for a chance to go to France to compete in the Danone Nations Cup World Final
The under-12 Eastern Cape Danone Nations Cup provincial finals will take place at Laerskool Kuswag in East London on Saturday May 21st. The champion will join the other eight provincial winners in Gauteng on June 25th to compete in the national finals.
The prize for the national winner is a trip to France in October to compete in the world finals with 31 other nations. A school that is not new to competing internationally is Barkerville Primary School, from the rural Mount Frere district. They won the national title in 2011 and went to the world finals in Madrid that year.
They are through to the provincial finals this year and their coach from then, Mpilo Changa, is still with the team. He is so hoping the team gets to go overseas again he has enlisted the help of the then teacher, now principal of another school, Siyabonga Marawu.
“Once his schools was knocked out of the competition, he agreed to use his experience to help us,” said Changa. “He runs a local club team and many of our players play there, so he knows them well.”
Changa said that the trip to Spain was an eye-opener and has changed his approach to the game which has helped the entire community. “What struck me the most was the high standard of football and the size of the 12 year-olds in other countries. They were equivalent to our 16 year-olds. Much of that is hereditary, but it also has a lot has to do with their diet, something Danone is trying to address here via the Danone Nations Cup.”
The level of skills as well as the vast experience and confidence of the players was also noted by Changa. “When I got back to our community, the first thing I did was to start a local league. It was clear that we do not play enough competitive soccer. The boys from the other countries were more composed and their skills and techniques were polished. We only play during school for a couple of hours a week. So I decided to set up a structure where the boys played more and were more competitive.”
So he began the uMzimvudu Local Development League to improve the level of soccer in the rural areas. It consists of the age groups 11 to 15.
“In the early stages of developing young players they need to play soccer on a regular basis so that they can improve their fitness level and techniques,” he said.
Joining Barkerville at the provincial finals is Gcinubuzwe Combined School.
They are in the provincials for the first time. Their coach, Mzoxolo Williams, is a volunteer at the school. In 2015 he attended a workshop organised by the National Youth Development Agency, and run by a Germany organisation called Sports for Change. This workshop gave him insight into development and how to work with children, he said.
“I would love these kids to go to France,” he said. “International exposure is excellent for kids. This is basically the World Cup for under-12s and the future Lucas Radede and Benni McCarthy will be there.”
They will have to get past Barkerville first. Williams acknowledges that they will be their main opposition at the provincial finals.
The participarting teams are:
Alfred Nzo: Barkerville Junior Secondary School
Amathole: Ngubethole Bam Junior Secondary School.
Chris Hani: Debera Junior Secondary School
Joe Gqabi: Maruping Primary School
OR Tambo: Guqaza Junior Secondary School
Sarah Baartman: Gcinubuzwe Combined School
The winner of the Nelson Mandela district will be determined during the week.