Gauteng and Limpopo have hosted their under-12 Danone Nations Cup provincial finals and now it’s time for the nationals where the winner of the girls and boys teams will be identified and will travel to Spain to represent South Africa at the world finals.
The under-12 Danone Nations Cup South Africa national finals promise to be spectacular. For the first time it will not be just the boys playing for a chance to compete in the world finals, but this year the girls will also be competing. They will be joined by the 2018 winners, Nomlinganiselo from the Western Cape who will be the third team travelling to Barcelona. The nationals will take place at the WJ Clement Stadium in Reiger Park on Saturday, 15th June. The games kick-off at 9.30am.
The final round of provincial finals took place this past weekend. Gauteng held their finals at Germiston Stadium to coincide with the Department of Education’s winter games with Sicelo Primary School beating Bonamelo 1 – 0 on penalties in the final match, after neither team managed to score in regulation time.
There were 9 participating teams including the 8 district winners who were joined by The King’s School Robin Hills representing the Johannesburg Primary Schools Football Association (JPSFA).
As with the boys, there were 8 girls district winners and Bryneven Primary School who represented the JPSFA making up the 9th team.
Both the boys and girls teams were divided into two pools and competing in a round robin format. The teams that topped the boys section competed in a final match whereas the first four girls teams on the logs played in a semfinal to identify the two finalists. Bryneven took on Rebonwe Primary in the final match. Both teams played well, scoring 2 goals each, however a third goal alluded them both and the final went down to a penalty shootout with Rebonwe winning 3 – 1.
The good news for the four girls semi-finalists is they all have a second chance as they will play a new tournament at the national finals which will determine the school that will travel to Spain.
Limpopo held their provincial finals a day after Gauteng with Thapola A Nkona from Mabopane winning through to the nationals for the fourth time. They beat Mahonisi 1 – 0 in the final match, thanks to the brilliant footwork of Jeseria Mashabela, affectionately referred to as ‘Mike’, a youngster that joined the school after he was found sleeping on the streets and he was then adopted by one of the teachers at the school.
“Young Mike has been with us for a couple of years now and he has shown such commitment and dedication and proved to us that the decision to take him in and find a home for him was the right one,” said coach James Letsoalo.
“Teaching these youngsters in the classroom as well as on the soccer field is crucial at this age. You get to know the boys very well, their dreams as well as their problems which often stem from home. If they have a bad game or training session it is up to us to motivate them and lift them up. This is how you get the most out of all the players.”
Now it is on to the national finals. Entrance to the stadium is free and Danone Southern Africa will reward everyone that comes to the stadium with NutriDay, YogiSip, DanUp and more. “This year is very important in the life of Danone,” said Marlinie Kotiah, Danone GS Director. “We are 100 years old and it is the 20th anniversary of the Danone Nations Cup so we want to make it a special year, hence our inclusion of girls which is a natural progression of the tournament.”
Kotiah goes on to explain. “This year also coincides with our new brand positioning and purpose, One Planet One Health, which reflects our belief that the health of humankind and that of the planet are interlinked and both need to be protected and nurtured. Through the Danone Nations Cup we are contributing to bringing this vision to life by promoting the importance of exercise. Further, we are encouraging our young athletes to ‘Play Football, Change the Game’, which is a rallying message to unite children, irrespective of their backgrounds and cultures, and to encourage them to become catalysts for positive change.” said Kotiah.
To encourage girls to get involved with soccer, Danone has brought ex Banyana Banyana player, Amanda Dlamini on board this year. She will be attending the final girls match at the national finals while DanUp ambassador, Itumeleng Khune will be watching the boys in action.
Free State: Ntebohiseng Intermediate School
Northern Cape: Ferdinand Brecher Primary School
North West: Laerskool Rustenburg Noord
Mpumalanga: Nelsville Primary School
KwaZulu-Natal: Muzuvukile Primary School
Eastern Cape: Patekile Primary School
Western Cape: Kuyakhanya Primary School
Gauteng: Sicelo Primary School
Limpopo: Thapola A Nkona
Bryneven Primary School
Rebonwe Primary School
Motshegofadiwa Primary School