Preparations for the nationals of the u/12 Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament are well under way.
The nine provincial champions are getting in those last practise sessions before they all head to Soweto’s Dobsonville Stadium on September 15. Games kick off at 09:30 and entrance is free.
The winner there will represent South Africa in the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in Barcelona, Spain in 2019.
The boys from Shapeve Primary School, who will represent Mpumalanga, feel confident and excited for the finals ahead. They have an experienced manager, Andries Muthupi, who has been an assistant coach for professional PSL clubs, Black Leopards, as well as Mpumalanga Aces, prior to their relocation to Cape Town. He also assisted Kenny Ndlanzi, coach of the national u/23s.
Furthermore Muthupi has coached players such as May Mahlangu, who went on to join Ludogorets, Bucharest, Calvin Kadi, who went to Greece, then joined Jomo Cosmos and is now a successful businessman and Sibusiso Nhlapho who was with Mpumalanga Aces.
“I was not surprised that we made it to the national finals,” said a confident Muthupi, who joined Shapeve in 2016 as a maths teacher.
“Last year we reached the provincial finals and the boys were determined to make it to the nationals this year, so they put in extra effort and it paid off. I have a good team of focused, disciplined boys and I know they have what it takes to win the nationals. But we have a tough road ahead of us, we are under no illusion that it will be easy.”
Shapeve received its name based on the learners who attended the schools. “When you break the name down, ‘sha’ represents Shangaan, ‘pe’ represents Pedi and ‘ve’ represents those from Venda. However, we teach in English.”
Muthupi does not believe in changing the game plan at such a late stage. “We learned a lot at the provincial finals, but I will not make any changes to the team or introduce new tactics, but we have put in extra training sessions to keep the boys sharp, fit and focused.”
“I do not want to put pressure on the boys. I am encouraging the excitement of travelling to Gauteng as the boys need to remain confident. Further, when they write their ‘book of life’, I want the chapter on their Danone Nations Cup national final experience to be a happy one, no matter what the outcome.”
The schools that have qualified include Northern Cape (Lutzburg Intermediate School), Free State (Tshediso Xolani
Primary School), Limpopo (Benny’s Sports Academy & Development), Mpumalanga (Shapeve Primary School), North West (Laerskool Rustenburg Noord), KZN (Muzuvukile Primary), Eastern Cape (Charles Morgan Primary), Western Cape (Nomlinganiselo Primary) and Gauteng (Zamukhanya Primary School).