Schools reach for the stars

Richard Nkosi

Richard Nkosi

Mpumalanga host this year's Coca-Cola Under-18 Football Stars national schools championships from April 26 to 29 at Secunda Stadium in Embalenhle.

The nine provincial champions will not only battle for supremacy but also for the sizeable prizes.

The champions will take home a whopping R250000 while the runners-up will pocket R150000. Third-placed teams will get R100000 and all schools that reach the national finals are each guaranteed R50 000.

The Mpumalanga representative team will be decided this Saturday when the regional winners and runners-up vie against each other at Mpumalanga Stadium in Ermelo.

The regional winners are: Lihawu from KaNyamazane, Hlomani from Bushbuckridge (Ehlanzeni), Silindile from Ermelo, Sizwakele from Secunda (Gert Sibande), Sozama from Middelburg and Zach Malaza from Witbank (Enkangala).

Sipho Mabuza, chairman of Mpumalanga schools football, said they were ready to leave a strong legacy behind by hosting a successful tournament.

"It is the first time that the province will be hosting a national schools tournament. It is good to note that accommodation for the schools has already been taken care of, courtesy of Sasol. We are working hard to make the tournament a success," said Mabuza.

Themba Tshabalala, national school sports coordinator, said: "This year's scouts include Doctor Khumalo, Steve Komphela and Clive Barker. They will select a group of 100 youngsters who will spend a week attending a training camp. A group of 15 youngsters will then be selected and linked with teams in the Premier Soccer League."

Meanwhile, two schools have qualified for the national playoffs. They are Letshelemane of North West and Grobblershoop from Northern Cape.