Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ekurhuleni schools to compete in the Danone Nations Cup Gauteng provincial finals this weekend

Ekurhuleni region will be sending two schools to compete in the under-12 Danone Nations Cup Gauteng provincial finals happening at the WJ Clement Stadium in Reiger Park this Saturday, 17th June, kicking off at 9.30am.

Thembalethu Primary School and Roseview Primary School have both been competing in the competition for a number of years and this is the first time in the provincial finals for both of them.

In big regions like Ekurhuleni, the number of schools that enter the competition makes qualification especially tough, so getting a step closer to a possible trip to the USA for the world finals later in the year is very exciting for both schools. 

Thembalethu Primary is in Katlehong and their team is coached by Maletlotlo Maphuthuma. She took up a voluntary position in Thembalethu in 2016 after resigning from her position as a document controller to follow her passion which is working with children. 

She is currently studying for her degree in Education at UNISA and, after being appointed by the school as the sport coordinator, was invited by the Katlehong Schools District to attend a SAFA coaching course where she obtained her SAFA D coaching license.

“The SAFA course was an eye-opener,” she said. “I believe every soccer coach at school level should have a qualification to learn how to get the best out of their young players and teach them good habits.  I believe this is what helped us get that step further this year in the Danone Nations Cup.”

Thembalethu will be up against fellow Ekurhuleni school, Roseview Primary, based in Duduza.
Siphelele Buthelezi has been the coach there for the past six years, however his is on education - teaching natural science, technology and isiZulu - so this year he boosted his technical staff and became the team's manager appointing Mxolisi Mhlongo from Empangeni as the new coach.

Mhlongo recently graduated from the University of Zululand and teaches Maths, Social Science, Technology and isiZulu.

He has no formal coaching qualifications but did play soccer of the University of Zululand and played in the in the University Sports games in 2014 and 2015 and in the 2016 Universities Federation of Africa Sport tournament.

Buthelezi felt they needed that type of experience to help the school take the next step in the Danone Nations Cup and get to the provincials, so the coaching of the team was entrusted to Mhlongo, and it worked.

“He knows and understand the pressure of playing soccer at this level,” Buthelezi said.

It also helps that all the players are attached to local soccer clubs in the area, so they know about the pressure of playing in big games.

“We are grateful to Danone for sponsoring this very important development tournament for the past 17 years. The big prize of a trip to the USA cannot be equaled," Buthelezi said.

“It’s important to get insight into how other countries play the game at a developmental level. So, of course I’m hoping we will be the school that goes to the USA for the world finals.  That’s the plan, but we realise it won’t be easy”.

The venue for the world finals is still to be announced. There will be 32 countries participating there.

The Gauteng provincial finalists are:
Johannesburg: Florida Laan Primary School
Johannesburg: Zenzeleni Primary School
Ekurhuleni: Thembalethu Primary School
Ekurhuleni: Roseview Primary School
Tshwane: Sunnyside Primary School
Tshwane: St Joseph’s Primary School
West Rand: JB Marks Primary
JHB Primary Schools: Reddam House Prep School
Sedibeng: Arcon Park Primary
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