GAUTENG will be the last province to host their Under-12 Danone Nations Cup finals happening.
The tournament will be held on June 17 at the WJ Clement Stadium in Reiger Park with the first match taking place at 9.30am where in eight South African Schools Football Association (SASFA) regional finalists in action and a school that won the Johannesburg Primary School (JPS) League.
The winner will, together with the other eight provincial champions, compete in the national finals happening on 1st July at Reiger Park. They will be playing for the opportunity to represent South Africa at the world finals taking place in the USA in September.
The 2016 winners, St Joseph’s, from Winterveldt in Ga-rankuwa and are one of the two schools representing Tshwane.
The Johannesburg district will be represented by Florida Laan Primary School, based in Eldorado Park.
This talented school with 1 200 learners only started offering soccer as a sport in 2015 and entered the Danone Nations Cup for the first time last year, but were knocked out at the district level.
It was team manager and coach, Wandile Zwane, who has been at the school for 5 years teaching maths that introduced soccer into the school. “I heard about the Danone Nations Cup from other schools and how it had changed so many youngsters’ lives. These kids are exposed to bad influences in the community and the competition gives them a purpose and teaches discipline.
We use this opportunity to teach life skills, to allow the kids to have fun as well as get in exercise. Many children come from challenging circumstances and don’t really know what it is like to have fun.”
He said they have a strong team as all the players belong to an after-school organisation called Kliptown Youth Programme.
“The programme offers homework and sports assistance for the children in Pimville, Kliptown and Eldorado Park,” Zwane explains. “Most of the players play for the under-12 team that competes against similar organisations and against local clubs on weekends. Six of my team players are with Sports Lisbon in Southdale. They were recruited after last year’s Danone Nations Cup.”
Florida Laan played in the Zola Tree and Chiawelo tournaments at the end of last year, and won both of them. “That was great preparation for this year’s Danone Nations Cup,” Zwane said.
The team used 15 players in the cluster and district level games, one of which is a girl, who is a dribbling wizard in the midfield called Ntando Ntamane.
“She is not intimidated by playing with and against boys,” Zwane said. “When we play against other schools the boys think that they can outrun and outwit her, but she generally outruns them and is very good at creating scoring opportunities. She won’t be part of the team at the provincial finals, but will be there as our supporter.”
The Joburg regional finals were played on the 10th of May, in Eldorado Park, with 25 schools taking part. Florida Laan played Eldocrest Primary School in the final and won 1-0.
The Gauteng provincial finalists are: Johannesburg: Florida Laan Primary School
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 Sedibeng: Arcon Park Primary