Final preparations underway before FS Danone Nations Cup

There are just two days left for coaches of the five schools participating in the Free State under-12 Danone Nations Cup provincial finals to fine tune their teams.

The provincial finals will take place on Saturday at Windmill Park, Grey College in Bloemfontein with kick-off at 10am.The 5 contesting schools are:

The 5 contesting schools are: Zama Leka Primary,  Brebner Primary, Jagersfontein Intermediate, Phaphama Intermediate and Tikwe Primary.

This is a massive achievement for Jagersfontein Intermediate School who have managed to get into the provincial finals in their first year of participation in the competition.

It is, however, not their coach Denver Olifant’s, first time as he was previously a teacher and coach at Luckhoff PS, based in the same region for the past 8 years and they have been regular participants in the Danone Nations Cup. He moved to Jagersfontein this year.

Traditionally the school has only offered rugby as a sport for boys, but the principal, Mr Patrick Naude, decided that the boys should have another sport option and as soccer is the most popular sport in the country, the boys should be given the option to play it and he asked Olifant to introduce it at the school.

Olifant is a well-qualified sports coach. He has a SAFA level 1 coaching certificate, and Mini Cricket Level 1. He plans to get his SAFA Level 2 coaching certificate next year.

“It’s vital for coaches at development level to get their coaching certificates as they are taught how to coach the basic techniques such as passing, controlling of the ball and creating scoring opportunities,” he said.

The year has gone well and preparations for the provincials are on track,” he said.

“I noticed some mistakes in the regional finals but we seem to have ironed these out.  We have just one more training session and then the boys will have rest before the provincials,” Olifant said.

Olifant is a firm supporter of the Danone Nations Cup and believes that these high profile tournaments are what is needed to keep the interest in soccer high. They give the coaches extra motivation to ensure they have the best technical and tactical information available. “That’s important as the players progress through the various age groups until they get to the top levels,” he said.

In rural schools like theirs the facilities are, however, not good. “The Department of Basic Education should be upgrading school football fields, particularly in the rural areas,” he said.

Jagersfontein came through the regional finals with two wins and a draw, which saw them finish on top of the log. Their top goal scorer is Shawn Visser, who has netted 15 goals in the nine matches they have played, starting at the cluster level.Olifant understands that the provincial finals will be more challenging and keeping the confidence levels of the boys up will be what he is working on. “I am working on their psychological approach to the game in the final preparation stage and encouraging the boys to just relax and enjoy playing.”

Olifant understands that the provincial finals will be more challenging and keeping the confidence levels of the boys up will be what he is working on. “I am working on their psychological approach to the game in the final preparation stage and encouraging the boys to just relax and enjoy playing.”