The next round of provincial finals in the under-12 Danone Nations Cup football tournament takes place in Limpopo on Saturday June 8 at the Westenberger Stadium in Polokwane. Games start at 9am with the final scheduled at 2pm.
The five regional winners in the province will be vying for the honour of representing the province at the national finals in Gauteng in June and taking the next step up the ladder which leads to London and the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in September. The 2012 winners and runners up (Kgwahlele Primary School – 2011 and 2012 champs and Dorothy Langa) were knocked out early in the Cluster level so the playing field is level and all schools have an equal chance of winning.
Benny’s Sports Development Academy has been playing in the competition since 2010 and this is the third time they have made it through to the provincial finals. 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