Harmony High School from Virginia in the Free State has been the most successful team in the history of the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, winning R2.2 million in prize money in the last three years. They go into the regional playoffs in the Free State leg of the 2013 competition on May 18 as defending provincial champions, having won all of their matches at the cluster level and are looking good to advance to the next round of the competition for the fourth year in a row.
Harmony were the 2010 Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup Free State Provincial Champions and runner-ups at the National Finals that year, netting the school R 700 000.00. In 2011 they went all the way to winning the National title which meant they took home the R 1 million first prize, while last year they were the Free State Provincial Champions and came 4th at the National Finals and walked away with R500 000.00 The Provincial finals will start in July with the finals happening in September.
That totals R2.2 million was spent on things like buses, sports kits, equipment (including for under-privileged schools in their area), upgrading of their sports fields, computers, overhead projectors and other educational equipment.
Hector Mokhali, the team’s manager says the cluster games were tough this year but they are pleased to be through to the next level. “Marematlou Secondary and Reatlehile Secondary in particular were well prepared and had quality defenders,” he said. Harmony’s results in the cluster games were: vs. Mamello Secondary School- won 4-0, vs. Marematlou Secondary School – won 2-0, vs. Reatlehile Secondary School – won 2-0, vs. Meloding Secondary School – won 4-0.
Mokhali says he has a young team this year – most of the players come from the 2011 under-16 team, but fortunately there are 6 players who were in the competition last year and he is hoping that the combination of the youth and experience will work. All the players in the current squad are part of the Harmony Sports Academy funded by Harmony Mine in Virginia.
As far as preparations are concerned, Mokhali says they are busy building the team and trying to get the combinations right. “The players are still trying to get used to my coaching style,” he says.
The on-going teachers strike has resulted in them not playing enough practice games he says. ”We invite schools to come play with us but sometimes they don’t pitch, so a temporary solution has been to play against Vodacom league and Castle league teams in our area” he says. “However, they have tight schedules but one game in two weeks is better than nothing.”
Mokhali calls on ex-players from the school that have gone on to the PSL to come talk to the team. Lerato Manzini from Bloemfontein Celtic, Koloko Mokethi from African Warriors and Thabang Matuka from Maritzburg United have all been there. Manzini played in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup 2 years ago.”He has been very supportive,” Mokhali says, “not only this year but last year as well. Whenever his schedule allows it he spends time here”.
Mokhali believes commitment, hard work and team spirit is what has made them successful over the years. “We do everything as a unit and that is what kept us going all the years,” he says.
Of the successful class of 2012, Bojuzi Manjoe is playing for Sivutsa FC in the National First Division; Erick Mgomezulu is with Maluti EFT College FC in the Vodacom league; Themba Dladla and Ngozo Njabulo were awarded scholarships by the University of North West Potchefstroom Campus and where they are studying Sports Management; and Mpalala Bantu is with Bolton Wanderers in the UK.
Mokhali is looking to Tshwaela Phetisa, a striker with pace and magnificent ball control, to be the key player in the 2013 campaign.
Sanlam understands the value of development and the importance of realising what one hopes for. They believe that the SASFA Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup creates opportunities that have a positive impact on the youth and also provide exposure to scouts for those pupils who have talent. Moreover, the tournament also contributes to enhanced learning through improved educational facilities for the benefit of the rest of pupils in the winning schools and the broader communities around them.