Friday, May 25, 2018
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Hoërskool Noordeland in Polokwane will be the venue for the Limpopo under-12 Danone Nations Cup provincial final which is scheduled to take place on Saturday 2nd June.
The school teams that will be in action include the 2016 national champions, Benny’s Sports Development Academy, who will be representing the Vhembe region, along with Letjatji Primary School (Capricorn region); Miragoma Primary School (Mopani region); and Kgagudi Primary School (Sekhukhune). The winners of the Waterberg region will only be determined when the regional finals are played on 26th May.
Benny’s Sports Academy will go into the tournament as favourites, but Letjatji Primary from Ga-Madisha Leola Zebediela are ready to challenge them for the title.
It has taken 10 years for Letjatji to make it to the provincial finals but new coach, Frans Lechaba, said that he has an excellent group of players this year that can produce magic on the field of play and could well cause an upset on Saturday.
He has no coaching qualifications but played professional football for ICL Birds FC in the former Bophuthatswana from 1988 to 1990, which has proved helpful in youth coaching.
Lechaba joined Letjatji in 2016. He started preparing the current team back in 2017 by arranging a host of practice matches with the local clubs to get them accustomed to competitive football.
The Capricorn regional final took place earlier this month at Kgwadu Primary School with eight schools competing. Letjatji were grouped with Rev MP Malatji Primary, Sephala Primary and Dithabaneng Primary.
Lechaba admitted the day started well with an easy 1 – 0 win against Rev Malatji. “We dominated the game and capitalized on our strengths getting the ball in the net early in the game.”
Their second game against Sephala Primary School was a little tougher. “They were a good team. We made quite a few mistakes, but football is about getting the ball in the net, which our boys managed to achieve, and we won 1 – 0.”
The third match against Dithabaneng Primary School was challenging. “We just could not penetrate the wall put up by their excellent defense and eventually we lost 1 – 0,” said Lechaba. “However, we managed to top our log which put us into the final match against Toronto Primary School. It was another tough match which ended goalless, but we managed to win 3 – 2 in the penalty shootout which means we are now through to the provincials.”
“Benny’s Sports Development Academy will be our biggest competition at the provincial finals,” Lechaba says “They were the first Limpopo team to represent South Africa at the world finals and they always have a good team, but we are ready and excited to play against them. They are an academy and they have an excellent reputation, so I know we can also learn from them.”
Letjatji is in a rural area and Lechaba believes that playing in the Danone Nations Cup is extremely important for the kids. “I want to use the tournament as a means to teach kids to set goals and work in teams which therefore teaches them to trust each other,” he says. “With Danone as the sponsor we are also using this opportunity to teach all the youth in the school the importance of developing proper eating habits. I’m looking forward to the finals and seeing what talent is available in Limpopo.”
Gates open on Saturday at 9am, entrance is free and games beginning at 10am. The draw to determine the fixtures will precede the first game and sponsors, Danone, will be giving away healthy yoghurt products including Yogi Sip, DanUp and NutriDay.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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The under-12 Danone Nations Cup football tournament will step up a gear over the next few months as the Gauteng Province elimination process gets underway.
More than 2 700 schools registered for the competition last year and this is expected to be exceeded as the dates of the provincial finals have been pushed out due to the world finals taking place in 2019.
The Gauteng defending provincial champions, Arcon Park Primary School from Sedibeng East, Vereeniging will be back in action this year, as will several first timers including Enkanyezini Primary School based in Phiri, Soweto who will be playing in the central Johannesburg cluster.
“I have been following the tournament via Facebook and the local media,” said Langa Masia, Enkanyezini team manager and English and life orientation teacher. “I realise the importance of such a tournament in a youngsters’ life and it is an excellent platform to give our players the opportunity to experience competing in a high-profile tournament, so I decided to enter us this year.”
Masia aspires to the principles of the tournament and teaches them to his players. “Educating kids on developing healthy eating habits, the element of fair play and to believe in your dreams are important aspects in a child’s life.”
The school has produced a famous soccer star in the form of Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs player, Simphiwe Tshabalala. “Simphiwe still plays an important role at the school and contributes by donating sport equipment and school shoes. He often visits us and speaks to the kids and encourages them to never give up hope, stay focused and make sure they stay at school.’
Enkanyezini is a small school with only 352 learners, but they have enough under-12 players to put together a formidable team, explained Masia. The team will be coached by Bongani Mhlambi, also a previous student at the school and the current administration manager. He has no formal coaching qualifications but has picked up plenty of advice from Tshabalala.
Masia knows it won’t be easy competing in the tournament against excellent and well coached teams. “It’s about the experience and getting the kids to network with other soccer players their age. The experience will help to broaden their minds and get them to realise it is a big world out there filled with endless opportunities,” he said.
Games in Soweto kick-off next week. The South African Schools Football Association (SASFA) will be announcing the fixtures and dates this week.