ALL road will be leading to the WJ Clement stadium in Reiger Park, Boksburg this Saturday for the national championships of the Danone Nations Cup.
This Under-12 tournament which will see nine teams representing their respective provinces will see the winner booking its ticket to Brazil for the world cup finals. The national championships comes hardly two months after the long process in which schools were battling it out for their place in the finals which began back in April and it’s fitting that it all comes to a climax at a time when soccer is at the top of everyone’s mind as the FIFA World Cup nears its knockout phase in Brazil.
And it’s a trip to Brazil that will be up for grabs on Saturday. The winning school will represent South Africa at the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in Sao Paulo in November, so there’s everything to play for on Saturday and the players are all dreaming of playing at the stadium that they have been seeing on TV this week.
Apart from the exciting matches, there are many fun activities on offer to
spectators. Youngsters will be given the opportunity to display their soccer skills, with prizes up for grabs, and the Mille Free stylists will be there teaching them soccer tricks.
Nikon photographers will be there to take pictures of the kids with Danone Nations Cup ambassador, Neil Tovey, between 10am and 12pm. There will also be a number of fun activities, including jumping castles and face painting, among others.
KwaZulu-Natal representatives, Siphumelele Primary School, are a team to watch and are ready for the finals, physically and mentally. Their manager, Emmanuel Mkhize, says the players have shown they are capable of handling the nations. “They handled the provincial finals in their stride, and I’m confident they will do the same on Saturday,” he said.
Bayanda Lukhanyo, a 12 year-old midfielder, will be one of the Siphumelele’s key players. He said he is expecting tough competition in the nationals. “We made it to the nationals last year as well but were knocked out and hope to go further this time,” he said. “I would like to win, but I also want to have fun and make friends throughout the day.”
Another school that performed well at their provincial finals is Credo Primary School representing Free State. Manager, Dikeledi Sothwane, said he sees the teams from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as their strongest opposition.
“That being said, the team has been working hard and they will fight to make sure they are in with a chance. I believe what kids at this age need the most is confidence and I tell them that they are strong enough to compete against any team, they must not be intimidated and play soccer they way they have been taught.”
Itumeleng Tautse, an 11 year-old midfielder will be one of his key players. He said the team has been having problems with scoring goals, despite creating many chances.
“My parents, who are my biggest supporters, and try to watch as many games that I play in as possible, have bought me new boots and I’m looking forward to scoring with them on Saturday. I would like to score 8 goals, but let’s see what happens.”
Then there is Limpopo province’s Rev MP Malatjie Primary School to look out for as well. Team manager, Philip Nkwe says that the province has brought in coach Ronny Mbedele to help with their preparations. “He has made a huge change to our team, he listens to the players and makes them listen to each other,” said Nkwe.
Rev MP Malatjie’s key player will be midfielder, Leseba Sehona, who is excited to be going to Gauteng because his sisters, Malesela and Princess, who live in Jo’burg, will be at the stadium to watch him play for the first time ever. “That will motivate me to play well when I see them on the stands and cheering my name. I want to make them proud of me,” he said.
The nine provincial champions are:
Roodepan Primary School (Kimberley) – Frances Bard district, Northern Cape Siphumelele Primary School (Inanda) – Pinetown district, KwaZulu-Natal Credo Primary School (Sasolburg) – Fezile Dabi district, Free State
Rev MP Malatjie Primary School (Seshego) – Capricorn district, Limpopo
Kgetleng Primary School (Swartruggens) – Ngaka Modiri Molema district, North West Johannes Kananda Primary School (Witbank) – Nkangala district, Mpumalanga Caley Junior Secondary School (Butterworth) – Amathole district, Eastern Cape Lukhanyo Primary School (Hermanus) – Overberg, Western Cape Farrarmere Primary School (Benoni) – Ekurhuleni North district, Gauteng.
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