The under-12 Danone Nations Cup competition is under way, and entries have poured in from all over the country. Many regulars are back again this year, but what is exciting is the number of newcomers who have joined in the competition. Among the schools who are entering for the first time are three from KwaZul-Natal: Prince Dabulamanzi Secondary Primary School, Muzikayise Primary School and Muzomuhle Primary School
Prince Dabulamanzi Secondary Primary School is named after the well-known Zulu military commander in the Anglo-Zulu War and is located in uLundi in the Zululand region. Their manager/coach is Siyabonga Zwane. He is a teacher at the school and, although he has no formal soccer coaching qualification, he has a Level 1 Coaching certificate in cricket and rugby and is the school’s sports and social coordinator.
He says they are using their first year in the competition as a learning experience to gauge the level of play and to learn more about the tournament. “I see the philosophy of the tournament is to encourage healthy eating habits,” he says. “That’s something we strongly support. We have our own food gardens which the boys have to look after.”
Joining them in the competition this year is Muzikayise Primary School from Newcastle in the Amajuba region. Coach Nhlalzekho Nxumalo explains that this is the first year that the school could enter because they school formerly only went up to grade 4. Now they have seniors who are old enough to play. Nxumalo has been teaching Maths at the school for the 5 past years. He explains that the teachers all get together on weekends and play games against the local police, taxi and other community teams. This keeps them active.
He follows the DNC Facebook page to get more information about the tournament and learns about coaching via the internet and from reading books. “We have been hard at training, but because we have no experience in the competition, it’s difficult to say how we are going to do,” he says. Muzomuhle Primary School from uMlazi B Township in Durban are also in the Danone Nations Cup for the first time.
Sbu Mchunu, the coach, found out about the competition in the Eyethu uMlazi newspaper and he sold the idea of participating to the school. Mchunu is a parent there and part of the School Governing Body. He is involved in the daily activities at the school and now he is also the coach of the team. He says he has selected the team and 80% of the players play for local soccer clubs in the uMlazi Local Football Association.
“They have all played in tournaments before, so they should be able to adapt to this one,” he said. Muzomhule Primary has produced a professional footballer in Prince Nxumalo who scored in his debut match for SuperSport United. He is currently at Ajax Cape Town and is the club’s top goal scorer this season.