The first steps on the road to London will be taken by one fortunate primary school football team as the Cluster level matches in the under-12 Danone Nations Cup tournament kick off.
The team to emerge as the winner at the end of what will be a six month process will represent South Africa at the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in London later in the yearand get to play before French ex national player, Zinadine Zidane.
The winners of the Cluster competitions go on to compete in the Regional finals, and those winners then play in the Provincial finals, culminating in the nine provincial winners playing in the National finals to determine the school that will represent South Africa at the World Finals.
The Beaufort West Cluster competition got underway at the Rustdene Stadium last weekend and will continue over the next couple of weeks.
Some of the schools that will be in action will include: AH Barnard Primary School, Teske Memorial Primary School, Restvale Met Primary School, HM Dlikidla Primary School, Beaufort-West Primary School, St Mathew’s Primary School, Destiny Academy, Niko Brummer Primary School, John D Crawford Primary School and Murraysburg Primary School.
Andrew Louw, coach of AH Barnard Primary School, the reigning regional and provincial champions, believes his boys are mentally and physically ready to defend their title.
The school, located in Beaufort West Township, first participated in the tournament in 2002 and have reached the National Finals twice, in 2009 and 2012. Louw has a Level 1and 2, SAFA Grassroots and SAFA Football Introductory certificates. He also coaches a local amateur team, Rustville United. Seven players from the school team are in that side too. He is the school’s sports coordinator and also coaches the rugby team.
He says he is really looking forward to the 2013 Danone Nations Cup tournament.“This is an important tournament in our school calendar,” he said. “Last year we worked very hard and I am very happy that the hard work put in by the players eventually paid off. The same is expected from this year’s players. “
The team trains every day and Louw says they are fortunate to have training equipment so there is no excuse not to take part.
“Reaching the National finals is always a big achievement for me,” Louw said. “I always make sure that we participate in the tournament, not to put pressure on the boys to win but for them to enjoy it, to have the experience and meet with other boys their age. However, the tournament is about believing in their dreams and if they can win the National title that would be a dream come true for them.
“The World Finals are the ultimate goal of this tournament and every school would love to represent South Africa at that international level. It takes hard work, discipline and determination to achieve that. I am confident my boys can do it”.
Lowellen Appies, coach of Teske Memorial Primary School, situated in the heart of the Central Karoo, in Beaufort-West, says that, although the school has not reached the Provincial finals before, he is confident that they can do better this year.
The school was established in 1953, so it celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and Appies would like the under-12 team to celebrate this with a bigger achievement.
“Our aim is to proceed to the Western Cape Finals and represent the province in the National Finals in June,” Appies said. “We have been training three times a week in preparation for the cluster games. I had to replace seven players from last year’s team, so hopefully the remaining four will help me motivate the team.
“If Teske qualifies for the Danone Cup World Finals it would be a wonderful opportunity for the players, the school, Central Karoo, Western Cape and the country. This would open a door for our players to be seen by the world and by professional football clubs. It would be an example of how sport can change lives. At Teske Memorial Primary we believe that football is not just to kick a ball around but we teach norms and values through football. What a privilege it would be if my team could proceed to the finals.”
Teske sees his captain,Joze Van Rheenen as a key player. He was part of the team last year and is a much disciplined player and a good attacking midfielder.