The Under-19 Mpumalanga Kay Motsepe Schools Cup Provincial Finals take place on 26th September at the Themba Sinamela Stadium in Middleburg and will coincide with the Department of Education’s Sports Olympics.
There will be four teams competing for the R100 000 provincial winner’s cheque. The reigning champions, St Marks School from Nelspruit, will be in action again this year, and competing for their first title will be Sizwakele Secondary School from Secunda and team manager, David Nzima, believes that it is time a different school won the provincial title.
Sizwakele have been playing in the tournament since its inception but have never managed to get to the provincials. “But we knew we eventually would,” said Nzima.
“We put a lot of emphasis on sport, especially soccer,” he said. “Never did we even contemplate giving up. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could get to the provincials one day and this is our day.”
However Nzima knows that the pressure is now on. “Winning through to the provincials also means that we have moved up to a higher level. We need to prepare twice as hard than we did for the district play offs. I tell the boys to put 110% in training and in each and every game that we play in because we don’t know how challenging the other schools are.”
With over 1500 learners at Sizwakeke there is no shortage of players vying for a place in the squad. “Every year we start from scratch and select the u-16, u-17 and u-19 teams. What we look for specifically are players with good technical and tactical skills. They also need to have the right attitude as well as determination and focus,” Nzima said.
“This year our approach to the Kay Motsepe Schools Cup was different,” said Nzima. “Training was stepped up a gear and we had plenty of team talks on motivation and getting the players to believe in themselves. This had a positive result in that we won all eight games we played in,” although he admits it was not easy.
The final week of training will remain as normal but additional games will be arranged. “We have arranged practise matches against neighbouring schools to get the boys used to playing competitively. We have a brilliant and experienced coach in Mr Joseph Matloung who has been working with the team for 3 years now,” Nzima said.
“Come Saturday we will be ready to face any team and we will not go down without a fight. We have heard that St Marks has won the tournament for a number of years now, even when they were East High, but we are not afraid of them. We have nothing to lose and will hopefully cause an upset.”
· St Marks School -Ehlanzeni District
· Sizwakele Secondary School-Gert Sibande District
· Hoerskool Kriel-Nkangala District
· Tshepanang Secondary School-Bohlabela District