THE Under-19 Sanlam Kay Motsepe School Cup soccer competition is well under way, with the first of the district level playoffs due to start soon.
This year the Department of Education has come on board which has boosted the registration numbers to record levels. And with R3.4 million on offer in prize money, the competition is heating up as schools strive to win a slice of the pie to use to enhance their school to benefit, not only the learners, but the community at large.
Games are currently being played at cluster level, progressing through to the district and regional levels with the provincial finals kicking off in August.
Among the schools busy with cluster matches at the moment is Lesedi Secondary School of the Gauteng North, Cullinan Cluster.
Their coach, Vincent Mashego is a former sports journalist who has returned to teaching because he wants to make a difference in the lives of his students. “I went back to teaching because it’s my passion and seeing my students succeed is rewarding for me. I want to nurture these young boys, I teach them soccer and career skills and mentor them because I have been involved in sports, particularly in soccer, and I have seen how many young players destroy their careers,” he said.
The challenge in coaching young players, Mashego said, is that they don’t know the basics of the game. “My challenge in coming back to teaching soccer is that I assumed that the players are in the first team so they would know everything. But to my surprise most players don’t know the basics of soccer.
So, every year we start with the basics. I don’t want to end up teaching them basics when we are in the middle of a tournament.”
It’s early days in the competition – Lesedi has only played 2 games so far -but Mashego is determined to go far with this team.
“We have never moved further than the cluster games in this tournament before, but this team is fired up and ready to make an impact on this tournament this year.”
The team is made up of a mix of new and old players and Mashego believes the new players will rise to the occasion and reach the expected level in the tournament.
“This year we want to reach the provincial final. We are not in a hurry to win this tournament yet, we are still developing the team and familiarising ourselves with the competition and gaining the experience.
The boys must just focus on training and developing their mental attitudes and individual games.”
The coach understands that academy sides are starting to dominate the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup. “The academies have qualified coaches, and top of the range exercise equipment but that does not determine how great a player can be on the field. Ordinary schools have the same chance of winning this tournament as the academies do. They must just be well prepared, determined and willing to go the extra mile in training.”