Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Mpumalanga school will bank on the professional experience of the manager to prepare for the Danone Nations Cup National Final

Preparations for the national finals of the under-12 Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament are well underway.  The nine provincial champions are getting in those last practise sessions before they all head to Soweto’s Dobsonville Stadium on the 15th of September.

The winner there will represent South Africa in the Danone Nations Cup world finals in Barcelona, Spain in 2019.

The boys from Shapeve Primary School, who will be representing Mpumalanga province, are feeling confident and excited for the finals ahead.  They have an experience manager, Andries Muthupi, who has been an assistant coach for professional PSL clubs, Black Leopards as well as Mpumalanga Aces, prior to their relocation to Cape Town. He also assisted Kenny Ndalanzi, coach of the National under 23’s.

Further, Muthupi has coached players such as May Mahlangu, who went on to join Ludogorets, Bucharest, Calvin Kadi, who went to Greece, then joined Jomo Cosmos and is now a successful businessman and Sibusiso Nhlapho who was with Mpumalanga Aces.

“I was not surprised we made it to the national finals,” said a confident Muthupi, who joined Shapeve in 2016 as a Maths teacher.  “Last year we reached the provincial finals and the boys were determined to make it to the nationals this year so put in extra effort and it paid off.  I have a good team of focused, disciplined boys and I know they have what it takes to win the nationals.  But we have a tough road ahead of us, we are under no illusion that it will be easy.”

Shapeve received its name based on the learners that attend the schools.  “When you break the name down, ‘Sha’ represents Shangaan, ‘Pe’ represents Pedi and ‘Ve’ represents those from Venda, however we teach in English.”

Muthupi does not believe in changing the game plan at such a late stage.  “We learnt a lot at the provincial finals, but I will not be making any changes to the team or introducing new tactics, but we have put in extra training sessions to keep the boys sharp, fit and focused.”

The players are excited to be travelling to Gauteng as most have never been out of the province.  “I do not want to put pressure on the boys.  I am encouraging the excitement of travelling to Gauteng as the boys need to remain confident.  Further, when they write their ‘book of life’, I want the chapter on their Danone Nations Cup national final experience to be a happy one, no matter what the outcome.”

The schools that have qualified include:

NORTHERN CAPE    Lutzburg Intermediate School
FREE STATE             Tshediso Xolani Primary School
LIMPOPO                  Benny's Sports Academy & Development
MPUMANLANGA   Shapeve Primary School
NORTH WEST          Laerskool Rustenburg Noord
KZN                           Muzuvukile Primary School
EASTERN CAPE      Charles Morgan Primary School
WESTERN CAPE     Nomlinganiselo Primary School
GAUTENG                Zamukhanya Primary School 

Ekurhuleni school to represent Gauteng Province at the Danone Nations Cup national finals

Zamukhanya Primary School from Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, beat St Joseph’s Kulani 1 – 0 in a nail-biting under-12 Danone Nations Cup provincial final match this weekend, which has earned them a spot in the national finals taking place at the Dobsonville Stadium, Soweto, on Saturday, 15th September. 

“I am overwhelmed as this was not expected’” said an excited coach, Sibonelo Mfeka.  “Our first Danone Nations Cup experience and we have reached the national finals.   I am humbled, and it proves that dreams come true.  It doesn’t matter from where one comes, whether from the dusty streets in the rural areas or the more affluent urban area, anyone can win you just need to have faith and determination.”

The winning strategy, believes the coach, was mental preparation and being able to identify talent and position that talent correctly.  “The challenge is that I have no coaching qualification.  I played soccer at primary school only and I coach the boys according to my personal knowledge of the game.  I teach them the basics.  My talent is being able to pick good players and I allow them to go out and just play the game and then I encourage them and build their confidence.  I tell them that the game is seven against seven and to go out and just enjoy the game. This proved a good strategy as the provincials were not easy.  The teams were good and there were plenty of spectators which was a bit daunting, but the boy’s confidence was so strong that they didn’t let anything phase them.”

The next step is the national finals at the Dobsonville Stadium.  “I am not going to make any changes to either the team or our training regime,” said Mfeka.  “However, I might include more practise sessions.  I am not going to promise we are going to win the nationals, but we will go well prepared and use it as a learning experience.”

Nutrition will also play a key role in preparations.  “The players come from poor families and we have a feeding scheme at the school, and so I am comfortable that they will get enough nutrition to build them up for the nationals.”

Zamukhanya’s first provincial final match against St David’s Marist was tough as their opponents were strong and determined.  Despite the game being played in St David’s half most of time, they failed to capitalise, and the game ended with no score giving each team a point.

Their next game was against an experienced Sunnyside Primary from Pretoria, who have competed in the numerous provincial finals. The newcomers were not phased by experience and went on to beat them 2 – 0.  They then beat Sicelo Primary 1 – 0 to top the log meeting St Joseph’s Kulani in the final match.  It was a tough game with both teams evenly matched.  It could have gone either way with both schools failing to score after numerous shots at goal.  Zamukhanya finally managed to put the ball in the net to win 1 – 0.

The national finals will see the nine provincial winners compete for the title and a chance to represent South Africa at the world finals scheduled for Barcelona, Spain, in 2019.  Entrance to the Dobsonville Stadium on 15th September is free and, not only can the fans watch first class under-12 soccer, but there will be fun for the whole family in the form of skill testing games, target shooting, jumping castles, face painting and much more.  

Provincial final results:
  1. Thembalethu Primary 0 vs 0 St David’s Marist 
  2. Phakamani Primary  0 vs  3 Sicelo Primary
  3. Bonamelo Primary   3  vs   0   Somelulwazi Primary
  4. Sunnyside Primary 0  vs 2  Zamukhanya Primary
  5. St Joseph’s Kulani   1  vs  0 Thembalethu Primary
  6. St David’s Marist  3  vs  0   Somelulwazi Primary
  7. Sicelo Primary   0 vs   1  Zamukhanya Primary
  8. Bonamelo Primary 0  vs 1  St Joseph’s Kulani
  9. Somelulwazi Primary 0  vs 3  Thembalethu Primary
  10. Zamukhanya Primary 3  vs 0 Phakamani Primary
  11. St David’s Marist 0  vs  2  Bonamelo Primary
  12. Sicelo Primary 3  vs 0  Sunnyside Primary
  13. Somelulwazi Primary 0  vs 3  St Joseph’s Kulani
  14. Thembalethu Primary 1  vs  3 Bonamelo Primary
  15. Phakamani Primary 0 vs  3 Sunnyside Primary
  16. St Joseph’s Kulani 1 vs 0  St David’s Marist

Zamukhanya 1 vs 0  St Joseph’s Kulani

Friday, August 24, 2018

Gauteng is the last province to host their Danone Nations Cup finals happening this weekend at Sacred heart College.

The school that will represent Gauteng at the under-12 Danone Nations Cup national soccer finals will be known on Saturday, 25th August, at Sacred Heart College in Observatory, Johannesburg, the venue for the last provincial final of the tournament.  There will be nine schools competing for the spot in the nationals.

There was great excitement at Benoni’s Zamukhanyo Primary School on the weekend when they qualified for the provincials and will be one of the Ekurhuleni teams in action. What makes it even more amazing, explains the coach, Sibonelo Mfeka, is the fact that the school is participating in the Danone Nations Cup for the first time.  He entered the school this year after being encouraged to do so by the Department of Basic Education.

“We are a no fee school serving a number of townships, informal settlements and rural areas around Ekurhuleni and our facilities are limited so to get this far is exceptional and I must give credit to the commitment of my players,” said Mfeka.

Mfeka has no coaching qualification and is a teacher at the school. “The district level was tough, particularly the game against Michael Mkhwanazi primary,” he said. “They were an excellent team, but we finished top of the log to go through to the next round of the competition.”

Striker, Siyabonga Msimango who plays for Highlands Park, along with 2 other boys is going to be a key player for the team at the nationals,” Mfeka believes. “He also helps out with training by preparing drills and is a good leader.”

The other school that will represent Ekurhuleni is based in Katlehong.  Thembelethu Primary School will be competing in the provincial finals for the second year in succession under coach, Miss Maletlotlo Maphuthuma. 

Maphuthuma is hoping her team shines this year and makes it to the national finals.  “I believe there is a female coach from Rustenburg that will be at the national finals and, being women’s month, it would be really apt if there were two of the nine teams coached by women!”

Her dream could well come true considering the quality of her players which includes two boys that are in the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club’s development structures.  “My two defenders play for the club’s under-13 team.  Sundowns has excellent development coaches and these two boys bring with them a wealth of knowledge.  They help me with drills as well as skills transfer such as dribbling and passing. We could well surprise everyone on Saturday.  The other coaches must underestimate us at their own peril.”

The school has produced a professional player in Thela Ngobeni, who is currently a goalkeeper at Mamelodi Sundown.  Due to their success on the football field the school has earned the nickname ”obvious”.

St David’s Marist Inanda will go onto the field on Saturday as newcomers to the provincials, representing the Johannesburg Primary Schools Football Association. Team manager, Thami Nkabinde will be approaching the provincials cautiously.

“All the teams that get to the provincials will have been through gruelling qualifiers and it will not be easy,” he said. “Our boys are currently on holiday, but we will be having three practice sessions this week to make sure the boys are ready. I have told them to keep fit – not to sit at the computer and TV - but to go for walks, runs, practice by themselves and to drink plenty of water cutting down on junk food. And to stick to NutriDay yoghurt as a healthy snack.”

The majority of St David’s players also compete at club level, the majority for Pirates in Greenside. “The season at school is very short which does not give them enough time to get ready on their own. We teach the boys the basics and get them to have fun but at club level it is taken more seriously,” Nkabinde said.

He was with the team last year when they were under-11 and has progressed with them this year. Their coach is a student who has no formal qualifications but a passion for the game, and the boys have responded well to him.

The aim of the Danone Nations Cup is to encourage youngsters to believe in their dreams and bring about positive social change. Through sport children can learn important life lesson about responsibility, dedication, hard work and relying on others. The competition promotes teamwork and sharing, and teaches the players to think on the run.

Nutrition is very important for kids at this age, and Danone’s aim is also to teach them to eat properly. The calcium found in dairy products helps to build strong bones.