Harmony ready for championship

2015-04-30 16:58

THE Harmony High School u.19 boys football team from Virginia are hard at work shaping up for when the 2015 Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Championship commences in April. The tournament is set to start with a cluster fixture and sees current coach Pitso Mokoena continue in his quest to scoop the third title nationally.

The Harmony side, boasting of core players of the Virginia Sports Academy, have over the years dominated in the Free State. This year will be no different as the coach targets the national title.

Mokoena has been with the school since 2008 and boasts of two national titles – in 2008 and 2011.

A third national trophy has been eluding the former Free State Stars star midfielder. Mokoena sees the 2008 victory as his greatest achievement against the odds. He said he did not have enough time to prepare the team the year in question and had to deal with players’ injuries which had left his side depleted, having just 12 players to compete at the 2008 national final.

Against all odds, Mokoena inspired the team to win the 2008 national trophy.

“Winning the 2011 Kay Motsepe Schools Cup was easier. I think that the 2011 team was the best team I have coached.

They were talented and they made my job very easy,” he said.

Mokoena said this year he would play with a completely new team, the majority fast-tracked from the u.17 team that had won a key knockout tournament in 2014.

The core of the u.17 players is part of the Virginia Sports Academy side currently campaigning in the SAB Castle Regional League in the South African Football Association (Safa) Lejweleputswa regional.

Mokoena said the new breed of players to be promoted would join seven of last year’s u.19 players as he continued the development programme.

“All are currently training together, but we will select the best players for the Kay Motsepe Schools Cup and it does not necessarily have to include last year’s players.

We also compete in open tournaments and leagues against other teams other than schools to give the players experience, for them to grow and learn this way,” said Mokoena.

In the opening fixture of the cluster phase of the Kay Motsepe Schools Cup, the Harmony boys will clash with local rivals Marematlou Secondary School from Virginia. Mokoena said they would not underestimate them.

“Every year teams grow, they have new talented players and there’s no guarantee that Harmony will win every year. But we try to be optimistic.

“We have always represented the Free State in this tournament and we know that other schools in the Free Sate are gunning for the title and are working hard to make sure that they get that title, we don’t take competition lightly.

“Local rivals HTS Louis Botha from Bloemfontein are a very strong team. They are the team that could well give us a challenge.

“In 2013 they took the provincial title away from us for the first time and they will be a threat again this year,” said Mokoena.

Mokoena’s coaching philosophy is based on hard work and a good relationship with his players.

“Soccer is an ever-evolving sport and as a coach you need to develop your skills by attending coaching clinics, getting more qualifications and equipping yourself with current trends,” he said.

According to Mokoena, the biggest challenge is dealing with the players’ attitudes.

“You sometimes have players that think that they are the best thing that has happened; they tend to be egotistical.

“As a coach you need to be able to bring them back down to earth and ground them. I try to make it a team problem which needs to be resolved as a team,” said Mokoena

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