Eland Makobela, the team’s manager, explains that he is fortunate in that the parents are fully behind their kids and attend matches and give their kids the vital parental support they need to build confidence. He also has four players this year who play for clubs and they will be his key players in the team. “They receive professional coaching and play competitively each week. They will help the other boys,” he said.
This is the second time that the school is playing in the Danone Nations Cup. They won their district competition in 2014, but were eliminated at the regional level; and in 2015 they missed out because they did not enter in time.
“We have made sure that we met the entry deadline this time and now the team has been selected and we are busy organising matches against surrounding schools to give the players the experience of playing competitively,” Makobela said.
FD Roosevelt is in a very competitive district made up of 40 schools, although not all enter the Danone Nations Cup. Makobela is not sure how many will register this year and will find out shortly when fixtures will be announced.
The school competes in a wide range of sporting codes and runs according to an inter-house system, which makes it easier to organise sporting activities.
In soccer, Makobela said, they are looking for players who are prepared to train hard, at school and on their own. “Practise makes perfect and we expect the boys to go home and kick the ball around,” he said.
“The Danone Nations Cup is very good for the development of players. They learn determination and hard work. Competing at this level gives then confidence, which helps build their personalities.
“They must be able to interact with other players as they will play in different teams with different players every year – they need to adapt to new environments. They also need to understand that not everything will go their way – they need to understand success and failure. You won’t win everything and it’s important in life to get back out there after a failure.”
Makobela singles out two players who he believes will be key to the team’s fortunes this year: Jason Mcnamara is a midfielder who plays for the Wits Youth Development under-13 team; and Koketso Mhlabi plays for Randburg FC.
Both players see the Danone Nations Cup as an opportunity to show what they are capable of and to make their families and those who have helped develop them proud.
Schools have until Friday, 4 March to register after which games at the district level will commence.