Thursday, June 2, 2016

Free State to host the Danone Nations Cup Provincial Finals

By the end of next weekend seven of the nine provincial champions in the under-12 Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament will have emerged, ahead of the national playoffs of the competition, to be held in Boksburg on June 25th.

It’s the turn of Free State to stage its provincial playoffs on Saturday 4th June at the Grey College Bloemfontein , with Gauteng and Limpopo hosting their finals in the 2 weeks following.

The eventual national winners will represent South Africa at the world finals of the competition in France later in the year.

Football development in the Free State is thriving with local PSL club, Free State stars, giving a helping hand and visiting the schools to look for players to boost their development programme and offering advice.

Two of the schools that will be competing in the Free State finals this weekend are part of that programme. 

Witsieshoek Primary School coach Victor Mokoena was part of the Free State Stars development programme back in 2005. He knows how important it is for young players to get the correct training at grass-roots level. He doesn’t have a coaching qualification but has played the game at a relatively high level, with Maholosiane FC and then Dikwena FC, both in the national first division.

The school has been playing in the competition since 2011 and made it through to the provincial finals in 2012.

Mokoena has been coaching the team since 2013, and is getting support from former Free State Stars, Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates player, Goodman Mazibuko who has held clinics at the school and often comes and checks up on how the team is progressing. 

Out of the 2012 Witsieshoek team, Bongani Khumalo, now in high school, has attended Free State Stars trials and Katlego Mofokeng is with the Supersport United Academy.

Free State Stars has been monitoring the players at Insoeng Primary School and three of the players from their 2015 team: Tumelo Louw, Kholisile Afrika and Thembile Dangube have been asked to attend trials at the club to join their development programme. The three are still at the school, but are too old to play in the Danone Nations Cup again this year.

The school is relatively new to the competition. They started playing in 2013, and made it to the provincial playoffs last year but lost in the semi-finals.

Coach, Mosepedi Ditaung, believes the biggest advantage this team has over last year’s is motivation. “Although there is always pressure, these players have a different attitude,” he said. “I tell them that everyone loses and it is how you rise above it that shows your strength.”

The participating schools are: 
TMD district: Witsieshoek Primary School
Xhariep district: Insoeng Primary School
Fezile Dabi district: Nelson Mandela Primary School
Motheo 1 district: Toka Primary School
Motheo 2 district: Moipone Primary School
Lejweleputswa (TBC)

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