The under-12 Danone Nations Cup Free State Provincial Finals take place at Grey College in Bloemfontein on Saturday 5th May, kick-off at 10am. There will be 5 schools competing for a chance to represent the province at the national finals. The ultimate winning school will go on to represent South Africa at the world finals taking place in Spain in 2019.
The schools competing on Saturday include:
TMD region: Witsieshoek Primary School
Motheo region: Katiso Public School
Xhariep region: Insoseng Primary School
Lejweleputswa region: Letsibolo Primary School
Fezile Dabi region: Tshediso-Xolani Primary School
Witsieshoek Primary will go into the provincials as the most experienced school. They started competing in the tournament back in 2011. In 2014 they made their first appearance in the provincial final and in 2016 they took it a step further when they qualified for the national final. They are hoping to make it there again this year and maybe get to the world finals.
The school was established in 1940 by a local shop owner who had 6 learners in his dining room. It was an Afrikaans school then and became dual medium in 1994. It now has 28 educators and 1058 learners, from grade R to 7. Sport is encouraged at the school and they offer a variety of codes including netball, table tennis, volleyball, mini-cricket and athletics.
Their road to the 2018 provincial final was not easy, admitted their coach, Zwelibanzi Zimu. The regional final was held at the Platberg stadium in Harrismith on 21st April with 16 schools participating. The fixtures were decided by an open draw which ensured the schools were mixed and they did not play against their own municipalities.
Witsieshoek’s first game was against Bodikela Primary which, according Zimu, was a tough match compounded by the fact that his players were nervous. It ended goalless and they lost in a penalty shootout. The second match against Matswathaka Primary School went better. The players were more relaxed and focused and they won 1-0. Mamafubedu Primary School were up next. Witsieshoek capitalized on the mistakes made by their defence and they won 4-0, a score they matched when they took on Thuto Tsebo primary which put them into the semifinal.
Lesaona Primary School was a tough game but Witsieshoek finally managed a 1-0 win to put them into the final against Miri Primary, another excellent team, admitted Zimu. They finally won 3 – 1 on penalties after the game ended goalless. “We took the long weekend off,” Zimu said, “but we are now back at training. We know from past experience that we will be meeting the best Free State teams in the provincial final so I will focus on building confidence for the next few days. I want the boys to relax and enjoy themselves.”
Insoseng Primary School of the Xhariep region will be a tough school to beat. They also have provincial final experience after qualifying in 2015 and again in 2016, when Witsieshoek came up against them. Their manager and assistant coach Mosepedi Ditaunyane is looking forward to Saturday. “In 2016 we struggled a bit as the boys didn’t understand the rules well at the time. However, I learnt a lot and the team is now ready and motivated. We want to win the Free State trophy for the first time.”
Ditaunyane encourages his players to have a positive outlook on life in general. “Last year when we lost during the regional finals they didn’t seem disappointed, instead they said that they will work harder next time. I think we have a strong team this year and I am optimistic about winning the Free State title.”