Excitement is in the air in Durban as young male soccer hopefuls between the ages of 18 and 23 who have been selected for this round of Ke Yona team search trials, head for King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on Saturday 20 May 2017. They will show Ke Yona’s professional soccer selectors what they are made of. Trials are held throughout South Africa’s, from which the 2017 Ke Yona team will be chosen.
Equally excited are two teams of KwaZulu-Natal primary school soccer players: the Under 11 boys from Waterloo Primary School near Verulam and the Under 13 boys from Little Flower Primary School in Eshowe. At King Zwelithini Stadium they will be receiving new soccer kits in their school colours, sponsored by Nedbank through The Sports Trust. Teachers from their schools will accompany two to three players from each schools to receive the kits at a midday ceremony on the same day.
The young players will have the opportunity to witness the Ke Yona trials and what it takes to be selected; something that they will be aiming for in several years’ time. The handover also gives them the opportunity to experience the King Zwelithini Stadium, which is quite a distance from their schools.
King Zwelithini Stadium has a FIFA standard soccer field and is one of the PSL venues, seating 10 000 peopls. In 2010 it was renovated and bought up to FIFA standards so that it could be utilised as training field for teams participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ‘Little Flowers Primary School has 654 learners from Grade R to Grade 7, and almost every one of our 360 boy learners play soccer and love the game. They dream of playing for Kaizer Chiefs or Thanda Royal Zulu one day. Our girls are also keen on sport but their big game is netball,’ says Little Flowers Principal, Derrick Moodley.
‘Our Under 13 boys are very excited about getting brand new kit in our dark blue and white school colours. You know what kids are like – having a new kit or outfit is half they battle won, they wear it with such pride.’ The three Under 13 boys from Grade 7 who are accompanying our teachers to the handover are skilled, promising players. They are Sbonelo Shembe, Smangaliso Mkwanazi and Ntando Mtshare.
Little Flowers is a public school on a Catholic Church property, 1.5km from the town of Eshowe and they have been battling for funds as the school hall and classrooms in this school built in 1934 recently collapsed.
Rebuilding these is Moodley’s priority as the new principal. ‘I’ve taught mathematics at Little Flowers for 18 years, and at the beginning of this year I was appointed principal,’ he explains. ‘There is so much to do on a limited budget, which does not leave funds for kit or sports facilities. The soccer field has handmade timber goalposts and no nets, and while we keep the grass neat and cut, the field is not marked out. ‘We are very appreciative of the kit as we just do not have the money for it,’ Moodley explains.
Waterloo Primary School is in Waterloo Township in Verulam. Sports coach and teacher Siyabonga Mnyandu accompanied by two or three of their soccer players will also be at the handover of kit in their navy blue and white school colours for the Under 11 side.
‘The boys are such keen players and there is so much talent in our school. We are one of the best teams in our area,’ Mnyandu explains. ‘We decided to give the kit to the Under 11 side because in 2013 when we were given kit, we gave it to the Under 13 boys’ side,’ he explains.
The girl learners at the school play netball and volleyball.
‘We encourage sport at our school because it definitely takes our learners away from things that can ruin their future. Many of our learners are from extremely financially stressed homes and this is a wonderful, healthy focus for them. The kids who don’t have soccer boots borrow from their peers.’
Waterloo sometimes has sewage spilling out in the middle of their mini soccer field and the field is not marked out. Whenever possible, they use the community soccer field and they play their hearts out, each boy hoping that in a few years time they will be selected to try out for the Ke Yona team and pursue their beautiful game dreams.