A TRIP OF a lifetime is about to happen for 36 young boys and girls when they set of to represent South Africa at the Danone Nations Cup world finals happening in Barcelona from 10th to 12th October 2019.
Passports and Visas are now done, the draw has taken place and they will come head to head with Indonesia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, England, Uruguay, Morocco, France, Italy and Japan.
“It is a mixture of excitement, anticipation and nerves,” said Chris Njokwana, coach of Nomlinganiselo the winning 2018 Western Cape’s school, “I have seen great improvement in all the boys during their coaching,” he said. “My first task was to get the boys fit so I had them running which they didn’t enjoy. Then we focused on positioning them to their strengths and then came the tactics.”
An area that needed the most attention was getting them to play as a team, admitted Njokwana. “Their strength is their speed. There are two boys specifically that I believe have an excellent future in soccer and have all the natural ability to become professionals. I am confident that they will be scouted quickly.”
Most of the boys come from single parent homes and some days getting to school is not easy. “Due to the environment in which they live it is not always possible for the boys to get to school so we don’t have all the boys at training. But I cannot fault their commitment to wanting to do well at the world finals,” said Njokwana.
Njokwana has his SAFA D license and is currently busy with his C License. He currently coaches Transition Football Academy (under-11 to under-18) and Fives Football School. He has coached the Hellenic High-Performance Centre and was a ball mastery and attacking coach at Ajax Cape Town. Most people know Njokwana as a football free-stylist.
He performed during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and he has travelled around the world showing off his skills.
Accompanying Nomlinganiselo will be the 2019 Danone Nations Cup South Africa winners, Muzuvukile from KZN and the girl’s team from Ivory Park, Gauteng, Rebonwe.
The teams leave for Barcelona on Monday, 7th October and will have a couple of days to acclimatise prior to the commencement of the tournament on 10th October.
On the final day, 12th October, the teams will play their final match at the home ground of La Liga club, RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, commonly known as Espanyol.
Also travelling with the team will be Amanda Dlamini, ex Banyana Banyana captain. She will be with the girls every step of the way, encouraging them, giving advice as well as celebrating and motivating them.
“Barcelona is symbolic as it was in this city in 1919 that Isaac Carasso created the first Danone yoghurt with the aim of improving one’s health,” said Masi Mkhize, Communications Manager, Danone Southern Africa.
“We are combining Danone’s Centenary celebrations and the 20th edition of the world finals in a bumper edition this year. It also coincides with our new brand positioning and purpose, One Planet One Health, which reflects our belief that the health of humankind and that of the planet are interlinked and both need to be protected and nurtured.
“Through the Danone Nations Cup, we are contributing to bringing this vision to life by promoting the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Further, we are encouraging our young athletes to ‘Play Football, Change the Game’, which is a rallying message to unite children, irrespective of their backgrounds and cultures, and to encourage them to become catalysts for positive change,” concluded Mkhize.
2018 – SA will be represented by Nomlinganiselo:
Indonesia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Brazil, South Africa
2019 – SA will be represented by Muzuvukile:
Mexico, England, Uruguay, Morocco, South Africa
2019 – SA girls will be represented by Rebonwe:
France (Olympique Lyonnaise FC), Italy (SSC Napoli FC), Japan (Chiba Chuo FC), South Africa
Image (Girls doin’ it for themselves. Rebonwe Primary School will represent SA at the Danone World finals in Barcelona in Oct).