By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
THE Westernburg Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo will be the centre of attraction this coming Saturday when five primary schools will be representing their respective regions in the provincial championships of the under-12 Danone Nations Cup.
Not only will be the pride of each of these schools of making their regions proud by winning the provincial honours is at stake in this competition which starts at 9am until 2pm, but the main ultimate prize which is a ticket to the finals scheduled for Gauteng later this month where an overall winner will go on to represent the country in London in September.
With last year’s winners, Dorophy Langa and their runners-up, Kgwahlele primary schools out of the way after they were knocked out in the preliminaries, the stage is seems to be level for the five schools which will be battling it out for the province’s honours.
However Benny’s Sports Development Academy from Venda in the Vhembe region whom they have qualified for almost all the competition since 2010 remains the main favourite to score this one home.
Their team manager, Richard Sidebi, says training has been stepped up a notch in preparations for this weekend.
“It’s a fortunate thing that all the kids stay at the school boarding house and that has made things easier for us as we don’t have to worry about players arriving late in the morning,” he said.
Sedebi says his defenders Oscar Nemavhulaha and Chris Mukwevho – who is also the team captain – have formed a solid defensive combination.
“They have both played in the competition before and the young captain has been doing a
very good job since we started preparing for the tournament. Further, the prize of a trip to London has been a big motivational factor for the team.
They are now more committed and have shown courage and hunger in their past two games. We would love to represent SA as that would help put our school in a map. For these kids, it would be a trip of a lifetime,” he said.
Bantoane Primary School will be making their first appearance at the provincial finals after four attempts. Coach Mandla Dube said the team has received tremendous support from the school principal and the teachers, who have agreed that they need more time to prepare for the tournament.
“Just getting to the Provincial finals has made a difference to the boys in terms of confidence and motivation.”
There are two players in the team that Dube believes are going to play a key role for them. Teboho Mokalapa and Edward Mathebe, both midfielders are the fastest boys in the team. “We are going to need them to win and run with ball, and to supply the strikers.”
TC Maenetja is coach of Thapola A Nkona Primary School. He said the players are excited about going to the finals.
“They talk as if they have already won; which just shows the level of commitment that they have,” he said. “I try to instil in their minds that they should never underestimate their opponents. I always tell them that whenever they play, they must give 110% because someone might be watching and they could potentially be chosen to play for one the PSL development teams or a sports academy. That truly motivates them to excel.”
Coach Isaac Makgakga of Pula Madibogo Primary School said the school has been participating in the competition since it began and this is their first Provincial Final experience.
“I’m happy that I am the coach that made it possible for them to get this far in the competition this year. The boys are very happy about making it to the provincials. This win has boosted their self-confidence as a team, now they see that working hard at something will reward you with good results.”
Sekhukhune Region -Bantoane Primary School
Mopani Region- Thapola A Nkona Primary School
Vhembe Region- Benny’s Sports Development Academy
Capricorn Region- Pula Madibogo Primary School
Waterberg Region – Mphaka Primary School