SPORTS in general, and soccer in particular, has the potential for upliftment and the Danone Nations Cup tournament has, over the years, brought hope and happiness to thousands of under-12 players from all corners of South Africa.
AH Barnard Primary School in Beaufort West is the latest in a line of schools that has overcome many odds and whose dreams have come true.
By winning the Western Cape provincial title, which took place at Jamestown Stadium in Stellenbosch last weekend, the school qualified to play in the national finals and stand a chance of representing the country at the Danone Nations Cup world finals in London in September.
The school does not have its own field and has to play on the local municipal ground. About 80% of the school’s parents depend on social grants for survival, so there is not much left over for football kit and some of the players have to make use of materials that they can find around town like plastic and cardboard to use as shin guards.
Team coach Jim Michael Fries said that while the players have been told about the prize of a trip to London and are very excited about it, for a lot of them just going to Gauteng for the national finals is a very exciting experience.
“The fact that we are going to Gauteng is already a huge step for our boys since most of them have not even left our province before,” Fries said. “But we also do not want the kids to totally focus on the possibility of playing at Wembley stadium because they might lose focus on winning the necessary matches in the national finals. We want them to take one step at a time but be mindful of the end goal.
“The most exciting part of the World Finals trip will be playing at Wembley stadium. Most of the kids watched the UEFA Champions league final on ETV, so they know about Wembley and it will be a dream come true to play at a stadium that was on TV”.