South African young football champs off to Spain



Ray Maota

Members of the Barkerville Primary
School team after being crowned
the Danone Nations Cup winners
in South Africa.
(Image: Flickr)

The international ambassador of the
tournament is French soccer legend
Zinedine Zidane.
(Image: Danone Nations Cup)

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Football players from Barkerville Primary School will be holding the hopes of the nation when they represent South Africa at the 2011 Danone Cup world finals in Spain from 5 to 9 October 2011.

Forty countries will be represented in the annual event, which has come to be known as the football world cup for 10- to 12-year olds. Fittingly, South Africa hosted the Cup in 2010.

Sandra Dorville, communications manager for Danone South Africa, said: “Football as a universal sport is the perfect way to promote values such as fair play, the pleasure of the game, team spirit, sharing and above all, human values like openness and respect.”

Danone, a dairy product brand, is the main sponsor of the tournament.

The Barkerville boys from Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape qualified to compete in Spain after defeating Kgwahlele Primary School from Limpopo in the South African Danone Nations Cup.

Neil Tovey, a South African football legend, said: “Barkerville dominated more than the others teams, and they deserved to win the finals.”

The team’s coach Mpilo Canga added: “The message I instil in the boys is to always play with confidence and have trust in your ability. This will be the first time that any of these boys, as well as myself, will travel out the country and I am glad that the hard work that we have put into training has paid off.”

The draw to determine fixtures will take place on 5 October and the group round-robin stage will start on 6 October.

The finals will take place on 9 October at the Santiago Bernabéu, the home of Real Madrid.

Dreams come true

Although competing overseas will be a first-time experience for the team members, some players have already dreamed of it.

Asivuyise Ndzamela, central defender for the team, said: “Having won the Danone Nations Cup and getting to travel to Spain in October, I have realised that dreams do come true and sometimes our dreams are closer than we think.”

Ndzamela rates his grandmother as his biggest inspiration. “My grandmother is very strong and has taught me how to persevere.”

He says this perseverance has enabled him to go from playing on rough fields, where the ball is made out of plastic bags and mud bricks stand as goal posts, to representing his country in Spain and competing at the Santiago Bernabéu.

“I hope to make my country and the people of Mount Frere very proud,” said Ndzamela.

Qhamani Mandlevu, who scored the winning goal to send the team on their way to Spain, said: “It was my dream to win and get to go to Spain. I have heard that there are scouts at the Danone Nations Cup world finals and I would really like to play well in front of them and hopefully catch the eye of one of them.”

Mandlevu said although he’s only 11 years old, he wants to start an international career as soon as possible.

Triple win to make history

If the Barkerville boys are victorious this year, they could set a new record by securing a triple win for the African continent. Teams from South Africa have won the world title twice before in the event’s 11-year history.

This is matched only by France and Reunion Islands.

The Cup’s ambassador is legendary footballer Zinedine Zidane, a former Real Madrid player.

He will be observing the young teams from the sidelines and will present the winner’s trophy.