Limpopo host their under-12 Danone Nations Cup provincial finals

Vhembe District champs Benny’s Academy are favourites to lift the provincial title of the DNC in Limpopo

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 (June 2)

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 were expected to be determined on May 26 when the regional finals took place.

Benny’s Sports Academy will go into the tournament as favourites, but Letjatji Primary from Ga-Madisha Leolo 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.

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