Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can KwaZulu-Natal school be the fourth to represent South Africa at the Danone Nations Cup world finals in the USA?

KwaZulu-Natal has been one of the most successful provinces in the under-12 Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament, since it fell under the auspices of the South African Schools Football Association (SASFA). The province has produced three national champions who went on to compete in the world finals (2010, 2012 and 2014).

The question is: can they do it again this year?

According to the professional scouts and organisers who have been at all the provincial finals this could be the case. 

Mophela Primary School played exceptionally well in the KZN provincial finals. They are well-organised, well-structured and have two star players: a goalkeeper who is a stone wall, and a striker who can score from free kicks outside the box, curling the ball like the Danone Nations Cup World Ambassador, Zinedine Zidane, used to do during his playing days.

Mophela team manager, Bongekile Gladness Msomi, is, however cautious. “It’s not the time to be complacent,” she said. “In fact, the coaching staff felt that the team’s performance at the provincial finals could have been better as a couple of our players didn’t perform as well as expected.”

Msomi explained. “We need to work on their psyche and get them to understand that they must not be nervous and intimidated, but go out onto the field with confidence and just do their best and have fun while they are doing it.”

All the best teams from the provinces will be at the nationals, so the games at that level will be tougher, she warns.

“Boys at this age come in all different sizes – tall and short and they must take them all on. Winning the pool games is key in order to qualify for the final match.” 

To get the players used to the pressure they will be facing, the school has arranged a number of warm-up games against the local schools, playing their under-12s, and also their older teams.

The school faces challenges when it comes to equipment as some of the boys do not have soccer boots so they have to share and borrow from each other.  “Our principal, Mr Mtsele is trying to raise funds for soccer boots for the boys,” Msomi said. “He is a role model to the kids.  He gets involved with them, helps them with all their problems and motivates them. 

“Since he got here there has been a huge difference in all aspects of the school. It was him who researched the Danone Nations Cup and entered the school as he insists that all kids get involved in sports activities to keep them occupied and not running around the streets after school. The school entered for the first time in 2015 and we qualified for the nationals and we have done the same this year,” said Msomi. 

Going to the nationals is going to be very exciting for the kids, said Msomi.  She explained that most of the kids had never ventured outside their village.  “Going to see Joburg, the biggest city, is exciting.  And as for travelling to the USA, that’s something else entirely. But let’s take it a step at a time. We want the boys to enjoy the nationals and all the fun that goes with it.”

The provincial champion schools that are playing in the
Eastern Cape: Isaacs Booi Primary School
Free State: Phaphama Intermediate School
Gauteng: Arcon Primary School
KZN: Winner: Mophela Primary School (competed in the nationals in2015)
Limpopo: Haggai Combined Private School
Mpumalanga: Sekhulile Primary School
Northern Cape: Roodepan Primary School (Competed in the nationals in 2014, 2015)
North West: Mmamitlwa Primary School
Western Cape: Idas Valley Primary School

DNC Partners

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