School sets sights on Nations Cup

2016-02-17 06:00
THE 2015 winning team in the Danone Nations Cup that qualified for the national leg of the competition.

THE 2015 winning team in the Danone Nations Cup that qualified for the national leg of the competition.

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THIS year, schools from the Frances Baard District, such as the Roodepan Primary School, are once again setting their sights on the ultimate national prize in the Danone Nations Cup competition.

The ultimate prize will be a trip to France to play in the world finals of this renowned competition.

Registrations for 2016 are open and the team from Roodepan hope to be one of the 16 final teams who will be negotiating their place in the regional and provincial stages of the competition.

The Roodepan team has been taking part in this competition since 2010.

Thus far, the team from the Roodepan Primary School managed to make it to the national finals in 2014 and 2015, ending in 5th and 6th places respectively.

The first stage of the provincial finals is expected to be on 19 March in Upington, when the best of the 120 teams that are expected to register for the Northern Cape leg of the competition will be battling it out for the provincial title.

According to the Roodepan Primary School, they are presently competing in athletics and their preparations for the soccer has not really gotten underway yet. The team manager, Enrico Chapman, has managed to slot in trials and has chosen a preliminary squad of 15, to be trimmed down to 12, according to the competition’s regulations.

Eldine Sebeela, the 2015 captain who missed the national finals last year due to an injury, as well as the 2015 vice-captain, Aldine Steenkamp, are part of the team.

Chapman believes the team did not do too well at the national finals last year because they panicked when the pressure became too much and they forgot the game-plan and strategy.

“We need to learn from that and improve on our passing skills and communication on the field,” he says. “We have the same coach this year, Christopher Jafta, who has been coaching at the school for seven years. He has a certificate in youth coaching and life skills from Football Forever.

“He is well qualified to help the players combat the panic they feel under pressure. Last year they were all over the place. This will not happen again this year.”

There are 16 other competing schools in the Roodepan area this year, of which the Rietvale Primary School is likely to be their biggest competition.

“Rietvale only offers soccer as a sport activity, so their team has been training since January,” Chapman explains. “We only started two weeks ago, so we are at a disadvantage.

“We cannot have the boys panicking and forgetting what they were taught. Coach Jafta is the ideal person to teach them to bounce back if they lose a game, as it is not the end of the world.”

Chapman is full of praise for the role the Danone Nations Cup plays in a school like Roodepan Primary School.

Roodepan’s captain for the 2016 Danone Nations Cup campaign will again be Eldine Sebeela. It will be the third year that he is playing in the competition and, according to Chapman, he was a natural choice as captain because he is the most experienced player, has strong leadership skills and a great sense of team spirit.

“I work hard at both soccer and academics and want to prove that I am capable of balancing both,” says Sebeela.

Sebeela also plays rugby for the school as a flyhalf and is hoping to have Rowan Johannes, his best friend, with him in the team this year.

They have been friends since gr. R and Rowan is one of the 15 players in the preliminary squad that has been selected.

The professional player Sebeela most looks up to is Simphiwe Tshabalala, the captain of his favourite club, Kaizer Chiefs.

“His passing is just so good and he scores lots of goals.

“Here in the Northern Cape we do not have a professional team so we never get to meet soccer celebrities.

“Last year at the Danone national finals in Johannesburg, I met Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs player Bernard Parker and the former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey. Playing in the Danone Nations Cup makes me want to be a better player every year.

“This year we need to follow the advice of the coaches and keep calm when things get tough. At the nationals last year, we panicked under pressure and forgot what we had been taught. That must not happen again.”

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