Schools battle for Danone Nations Cup spot

Benoni’s Zamukhanyo Primary School are participating for the first time and hope they will qualify for the national finals.

Their coach, Sibonelo Mfeka, entered his school this year after being encouraged to do so by the Department of Basic Education.

“We are a no-fee school serving a number of townships, informal settlements and rural areas around Ekurhuleni and our facilities are limited so to get this far is exceptional and I must give credit to the commitment of my players,” said Mfeka.

Mfeka has no coaching qualification and is a teacher at the school.

“The district level was tough, particularly the game against Michael Mkhwanazi primary,” he said.

“They were an excellent team, but we finished top of the log to go through to the next round of the competition.”

Thembelethu Primary School are back for a second year running with their coach Maletlotlo Maphuthuma.  

Maphuthuma is determined to lead her team to the national finals.

“I believe there is a female coach from Rustenburg that will be at the national finals and, being women’s month, it would be really apt if there were two of the nine teams coached by women!”

Two of Maphutuma's players play for the Mamelodi Sundowns Under-13 team and she believes they will play a key role.

“My two defenders play for the club’s Under-13 team. Sundowns has excellent development coaches and these two boys bring with them a wealth of knowledge. They help me with drills as well as skills transfer such as dribbling and passing. We could well surprise everyone on Saturday. The other coaches must underestimate us at their own peril.”

St David’s Marist Inanda will be competing for the first time in the provincials. Team manager, Thami Nkabinde will be approaching the event cautiously.

“All the teams that get to the provincials will have been through gruelling qualifiers and it will not be easy,” he said.

“Our boys are currently on holiday, but we will be having three practice sessions this week to make sure the boys are ready. I have told them to keep fit – not to sit at the computer and TV - but to go for walks, runs, practice by themselves and to drink plenty of water cutting down on junk food. And to stick to NutriDay yoghurt as a healthy snack.”