Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Limpopo host Danone Nations Cup Provincial Final – without the reigning champions, Benny’s Sports Development and Academy

The next round of the under-12 Danone Nations Cup provincial soccer final playoffs will be in Polokwane, at Hoërskool Noorderland on the 13th May, when Megoring Primary School (Capricorn district), Kgwahlele Primary School (Waterberg district), Haggai Independent Private School (Vhembe district),Thapola-A-Nkona Primary School (Mopani district) and Katang Primary School (Sekhukhune district) battle it out for the Limpopo crown.

Haggai Independent Private School from Thohoyandou-K in Venda is the school to watch. It opened in 1993 and now has 320 learners and offers boarding for boys aged between 10 and 18.

This the first time that the school has entered the Danone Nations Cup and they have won through to the provincial finals by beating reigning champions, Benny’s Sports Development and Academy, which has excited coach, Justice Matloga, the previous head coach at Benny’s.

Matloga coached Benny’s from 2004 until 2015 after being approached by David Mufamadi the owner of Benny’s. He has two coaching qualifications: a D Licence from SAFA, and a certificate in Sports Development in Coaching from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

In 2011 he was named the Best Coach in Limpopo and in 2013 he won the award for best coach at an under 16 national tournament.

He played a great role in the success of Benny’s Academy. He coached the u-19 team that won more R500 000 for the school in prize money, so he has directly helped build the school.

Now he is hoping for the same success at Haggai Independent Private School.

“I left Benny’s Academy at the end of 2015 to pursue my dream of opening an academy,” Matloga said. “It’s called the Greenway Sport Academy and we use the facilities at Haggai. The school’s principal, Mr Thomas Thinawanga Mudau, allowed us to do that on the proviso that we develop the school’s team at the same time as building the academy’s profile, so I was employed as the school’s soccer head coach.”

Haggai Independent beat Benny’s twice in the Danone Nations Cup regional finals a few weeks ago, so it was a case of the current champions being knocked out by a team trained by their ex-coach.

The regional finals took place at Benny’s Sports Development and Academy on the 21st of April. Six schools took part.

The players were very nervous going in the playoffs, Matloga said, especially since Benny’s were the 2016 winners of the Danone Nations Cup and they had a lot of experience.

Benny’s were determined to keep their title, but Haggai scored a goal in the second half and their defenders managed to keep Benny’s out until the final whistle was blown.

They played Benny’s again later in the day and scored a first-half goal. Benny’s came at them hard in the second half but never managed to score. 

“Our defence was too strong, so we held out and finished on top of our stream,” Motlaga said.

That put them in the final against Botsoleni Primary School from Mhinga. A tough match ended goalless and Haggai won the penalty shootout 6-5.

“I believe the success of coaching at this age is creating relationships with players and understanding how to deal with young players. Communication is key,” Motlaga said.

“I believe I communicate very well with his players and I try to keep a level of professionalism in everything. I’m teaching these young players to always maintain a strong level of respect, for their fellow players, for the tournament, and for the game of soccer.”

The team’s captain and centre back Potego Maruma, was the key player in of the regional tournament, Motlaga said. “His leadership got us into the finals and this will be the first major soccer tournament the boys will every have played in. We are going to need him to step up again at the provincials.”


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