On Saturday six Free State regional winners will be taking out step further on the road to fulfilling their dreams of going to London in September to participate in the Danone Nations Cup World Finals. The Free State provincial final will take place at the Clive Solomon Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday April 13. The winner will go on to represent the province in the National Finals with the ultimate winner packing for London.
One of the schools participating on Saturday is Tlong - Kganyeng Primary School. This is the fourth year they are playing in the competition finishing second at the provincial finals in both 2011 and 2012 and are hoping to go one better this year. According to Ramoshodi Ishmael Maleka, their team manager, the boys are in good shape and have been training twice a day during the Easter holidays.
He singles out his captain and striker, Lebogang Litabe, and midfielder Teboho Mokgotsi as key players in the team. “We have been grooming them from the age of seven and they are both very dedicated.”
Maleka believes the trip to London will give the kids an experience that will change their lives. He has heard that kids from Schools that have been overseas come home with more confidence and drive which reflects in their school work as well. “If we are the school to go to London we plan on taking the team to the Harmony Sports Academy in Virginia so that they can learn more about the sport and what is needed from a good soccer player,” he said.
Although no players from the school have gone on to play for Bafana-Bafana yet, one of them - Itumeleng Duiker, now plays for Bloemfontein Celtic.
Maleka identifies the interaction with other children and exchanging soccer tips with players that they meet from the different schools as making the tournament very valuable. “Every trip we go on is a memory to be treasured for these young lads and we are looking forward to the provincial finals,” he said.
Luckhoff Combined School will also be in action on Saturday. They have been participating in the tournament for three years and this is their first time at the provincial finals. The trip to Bloemfontein will be the first time many of the players will be leaving their village and there has been much excitement since the announcement was made.
The 2013 team is a completely new one. “We are confident,” team manager, Frans Deelman, said. He believes their two committed strikers, Devon Appies and Masoes Deviano are players to watch out for. “They are young but already very confident and comfortable on the ball and could well put us in the final, but we know that it will not be easy on Saturday.”
The teams participating in the Free State provincial finals are:
Monamodi Primary School – Lejweleputswa Region
Selogile Primary School – Fezile Dabi Region
Luckhoff Combined School – Xhariep Region
Matswathaka Primary School - Thabo Mofutsanyana Region
Emang Primary School – Motheo Region
Tlong - Kganyeng Primary School – Masilonyana Region
Two provinces have already hosted their finals: Northern Cape (Rietrivier Primary School) and KZN (Siphumele Primary School) are already preparing for the National Finals. The next provincial finals will be in Limpopo on April 20. The Danone Nations Cup National Finals will be in Johannesburg on July 22.