The call is out for primary schools to register for the 2017 under-12 Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament.
Primary schools across the country are invited to become part of the biggest youth football tournament in the world for children between the ages of 10 and 12 years old. The tournament has been in operation for the past 17 years, touching the lives of over 2 million kids each year. Once again there will be 32 countries participating this year.
The tournament concept is the brain child of Danone, the biggest global producer of dairy products. South Africa has been participating in the tournament since its inception. “We at Danone Southern Africa are excited to once again be part of this tournament,” said Chantel Ehlers, Communication Manager, Danone Southern Africa. “Through the Danone Nations Cup we are bringing health, through soccer, to as many people around the country as possible.”
The South African leg of this worldwide competition is organised by the South African Schools Football Association (SASFA). Games begin at cluster level with the winners progressing to regional finals culminating in the nine provincial winners playing in the national finals.
The eventual national winners are awarded the honour of representing South Africa at the international Danone Nations Cup World Finals tournament in the United States later in the year.
More than 200 schools have already registered, but that number will increase significantly in the coming weeks and the organisers expect the entries to exceed the 2500 schools that played in the tournament last year. Northern Cape will host the first provincial final in the latter part of March.
One of the schools that, of course, will register again is the 2016 winners, Benny’s Sports Academy and Development, from Louis Trichard in Limpopo.
Mbishi Mokwena, coach of the 2016 champions, has been busy in his community during the off season.
“After our return from the world finals in France we received so much positive feedback,” he said. “Everyone knows about the school now and we even won the award for Best Development School at the SA Sports Awards which were held in Bloemfontein at the end of 2016.
“That trip to France was so inspiring that during the December holidays I decided to show my appreciation to the community for its support by organising a local soccer tournament. It was a way for me to help develop the local kids, using what I learnt about coaching in France. I was exposed to new tactics and technical skills there and it’s important to spread my newly acquired knowledge to the other schools in Limpopo.”
Benny’s is so inspired that they started conducting trials for the 2017 Danone Nations Cup during the December holidays. They have a number of new boys in the 10 to 12 age group at the school and they need to give them a chance to make the team.
Benny’s are going to have new team this years as only 3 players that went to France are still eligible to participate again this year. Adivhaho Mudau, Ephraim Mudau and Ritshidze are still young enough to play, but they will have to go through the trials process as well.
“They must earn their place in the team,” Mokwena says. “I want to see them show consistency. They must be prepared to work hard and be dedicated”.
Mokwena said he learnt a lot about coaching from Brazil coach Papi Jacko in Paris last year and he is still in touch with him, as well as from Wits development coach Sibusiso Ntsinde. The training session Benny’s had with Wits last year showed him what was needed to improve his coaching.
Mokwena encourages all schools to register for the 2017 Danone Nations Cup tournament as it is such a massive platform for development and it exposes players to the fundamental elements of soccer.
To register for the tournament please contact Themba Tshabalala at SASFA: