Danone Cup will spread next year

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The South African Schools Football Association plans to spread the new Danone Under-12 Cup to the other six provinces from next year, after kicking off the competition with Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal this year.

Mandla "Shoes" Mazibuko, Sasfa president, yesterday explained that they could only start in three provinces this year due to time constraints.

Mazibuko, who is also Bafana Bafana's head of delegation, said: "We are pressed for time, that is why we decided to start with a pilot project in these provinces.

"The plan to select 32 schools in each of the three provinces to participate in the pilot project, that is not what we normally do but time is not on our side.

"We will roll it [the tournament] over to the other provinces next year," Mazibuko said.

"Schools in other provinces can start preparing themselves because everybody will be involved. We are all working hard to make it a big development tournament."

Mazibuko said the inaugural winners will represent South Africa at the annual Danone Nations Cup in Paris, France, in September.

The Tsetse Flies, the South African Under-12 national side, won the same tournament under the guidance of Harold "Jazzy Queen" Legodi as coach in 2003.

In 2005, Orlando Pirates' development side won a silver medal after losing to a Russian national team on penalties without conceding a single goal in regulation time.

In the past, the tournament was run by the South African Football Association (Safa), but the dairy products company has crossed the floor to Sasfa.

Steve Pila, general secretary of Sasfa, praised the company for continuing it's involvement in soccer development - this time at school level.

"For any country to do well in sports, the focus must be on schools. We won't be able to produce quality players for Bafana Bafana if we neglect school soccer," Pila said.

Themba Tshabalala, Sasfa's project manager, said the exciting new tournament will kick off on April 15.