A dream came true for the Under 12 football team from Blaauwskop Primary School from the Northern Cape when they took their first steps on the road to London after winning the Danone Nations Cup regional finals this past weekend.
This past weekend saw two sets of regional finals in the Northern Cape being completed with the next stop for Blaauwskop Primary School from the Siyanda region and Willie Theron Primary School from the Pixley region being the provincial finals happening at the Keismos Sports Stadium, Keismos on the 16th March. Namaqualand, John Taole and Frances Baard regions will be playing their qualifiers this week.
Coach of Blaauwskop Primary School, situated on Kanoneiland, near Upington in the Northern Cape, Johannes Julie, says the school played in the Danone Nations Cup for the first time last year, when they made it through to the regional finals where they lost to Upington Primary school in the quarter finals. “To qualify for the provincial finals in our second year of participation has brought a lot of confidence on the boys and I think that will help us a lot moving forward,” Julie said.
“We have worked on new strategies this year and it took a lot of determination and commitment from the boys. Fortunately I had 7 players who were part of the team last year, so that made things a little easy for me. I knew deep in my heart that I would want to reach the regional finals again, but I didn’t expect to win because we have strong teams in our region, including last year’s provincial finalist Keidebees Primary School. I am glad we have passed this stage and our eyes are now on the provincial title.”
Jurie says he sits with the team for about 30 minutes before each practise session and talks to the boys individually trying to build their confidence. “We trained three times a week in preparation for the regional finals and, although that was difficult, we will now continue where we left off.”
The challenge for the team, Jurie says is that most of the players live about 12 km from the school and, as a result, he can only keep them for an hour after school or else they will miss their last bus. “Sometimes there are only busses three times in the week and on the days when there are no busses we don’t train.”
Jurie says that should they go all the way and make it to the finals in England this year it would mean a lot to the boys. “They come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Most of their parents work on the farms in the area and the kids don’t even venture out of Upington let along travel to the National Finals. I would like to see us get there as it helps them see that the world is big and anything is possible.”
Jurie singles out two key players in his squad. Randal Bonson, who was part of the team last year, and is a disciplined player and a good attacking midfielder; and Ambrosier Pretorious – also a midfielder whose pace and good passing make him exceptional.