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Schools football competition in the balance

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This year’s South African winner of the Danone Nations Cup football competition seems unlikely to represent the country at the international final in Barcelona, Spain.

The tournament for u.12 boys is equally threatened by the coronavirus (Covid-19), which has spread across the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted several sporting events worldwide and has plunged sport in several countries into chaos since its outbreak in China late last year.

Spain is one of the countries most heavily affected by the life-threatening virus, with a death toll of over 18 756 and 67 504 recoveries.

The pandemic’s impact has resulted in the 2020 Olympic Games being postponed.

One of the greatest global sporting competitions, the Olympics Games will be staged in 2021, while most domestic and international competitions in other countries are on hold.

This year the Danone Nations Cup tournament celebrates its 20th year. The chief objective of the competition is to fast-track the development of players aged between ten and 13.

The South Africa final is normally staged during June, with the winner thereof representing the country at the global final in September.

Being able to do this is the ultimate prize for the winner.

The national final is preceded by the provincial finals, normally stagef during March and April. The 2020 edition provincial finals are on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The competition is administered by the South African Schools Football Association (Sasfa).

Themba Tshabalala, national coordinator of Sasfa, said the schools’ football governing body was still awaiting international decision from the sponsor to give directive about this year’s competition.

He said the body hoped to start with activities after the lockdown.

Furthermore, the competition will be affected by the Department of Basic Education’s implementation of the recovery schools programme as result of the emergency lockdown.

The Maokeng Primary School from Kroonstad was crowned the Free State champion last year following a narrow 2 – 1 win over the Ntebohiseng Intermediate School.

The school made history winning the provincial title on their debut and achieved this feat under a female coach Hilda Malebelle. The school finished the provincial final unbeaten.

The provincial final was staged at Grey College in Bloemfontein.

The victorious Maokeng boys’ team went on to compete for the national title against other provincial winners. However, they were unable to conquer.

Mabelle’s experience is a source of inspiration for the participating schools and fellow women.

She became the first woman in South Africa to achieve the remarkable feat to guide a boys’ team to a final.

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