Benny’s Sports Academy and Development, based in the Vhembe region in Limpopo, are Danone Nations Cup regulars. They have reached the competition’s national finals several times and represented South Africa at the 2016 World Finals in France where they finished in 14thout of the 32 countries competing.
Mbishi Mokwena coached the Danone team for many years but he is now focusing on other age groups and has handed over the reins to a well-qualified and experienced ex professional player, Moses Muthelo, who has a SAFA Level 2 coaching certificate.
“Training is progressing well”, said Muthelo. “I believe we have a good team again this year and I would like to help take them to the World Finals. Education is the school’s number one priority, but sport is not far behind and parents of skilled youngsters send them from all over the country to be part of our excellent set up.”
Coaching young players is Muthelo’s passion and he is excited to be preparing them for this prestigious tournament.
“The fact that all the players board at the school helps with our training sessions as no one needs to rush home after school,” he said. Our second term started on Monday and we have already put in two training sessions a day and we have played a practice game against a team from Madombidzha, a local village. That team is owned by the mother of a young girl who attends Benny’s. We are so impressed with her drive and determination to assist the youngsters in the village that we are doing all we can to guide her.”
The Benny’s squad was selected earlier in the year. “The team has been training together for a while and even during the holidays. We encourage the parents to send the boys back to school for training sessions,” said the coach.
There are three outstanding players in the team this year. “All three competed in the 2018 Danone Nations Cup so they have critical experience and I am building the team around them. Tsiko Manguvhewa is a versatile all-rounder and has been at Benny’s since the age of 8. I also have Tarollo, who is now 11, and in his second year at the academy. He is a winger with a crafty foot and is very creative. My goalkeeper, Moloko will also be a key player this year,” Muthelo said..
Registrations closed at the end of March with over 200 school in the Limpopo province registered. Games kick-off at Cluster level in April. Benny’s reached the national finals in 2018 but were knocked out at the semifinal stage and are hoping that this second chance will come their way.
There will be 20 countries competing in the 2019 Danone Nations Cup, which will coincide with Danone’s centenary year and the 20th anniversary of the Danone Nations Cup. “To mark this important milestone Danone has decided to combine the 2018 and 2019 tournaments together. This also slots into our new bran 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,” said Chantel Ehlers, Internal Communications, Danone Southern Africa.
“The importance of exercise is an element to good health, and we are encouraging youngsters all around the world 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.”