FOURTEEN Under 12 footballers from Sinamuva Public Primary School from Imbali township, near Pietermaritzburg, will be boarding an airplane bound for Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday night with the experience of a lifetime lying ahead of them. They will be representing South Africa, together with 39 other countries in the Danone Nations Cup World Finals from 7 – 9 September.
But the football will only be part of the experience. For all of the boys from Sinamuva it will be the first time they will be leaving the country and the first time they will be flying. They are going to be exposed to educational and life skill learning opportunities aplenty and that is in keeping with the objectives of the sponsors, Danone, who believe the Danone Nations Cup is not just about football, it is also a unique life experience. Through the four day event, the kids will share and meet each others thanks to many activities organised in parallel to the tournament
Sinamuva’s road to Warsaw began back in March when they played in the preliminary rounds of the competition. They became KwaZulu-Natal champions in April and went on to beat Gauteng’s Sonqoba Primary in June to take the national title.
Sinamuva have big boots to fill. South Africa remain the only nation to have taken the title at the World Finals three times – in 2003, 2007 and 2009.
The initial rounds of the competition will be played at the Osir Bemowo complex in North Warsaw, with the games on the final day taking place at the fabulous National Stadium, specially built for the recent Euro 2012 tournament and the venue for the opening ceremony and six matches in that competition.
The draw for the pool stages has been announced and South Africa is grouped with the teams from Spain, Turkey, Switzerland and Ivory Coast. It’s the Ivorians’ first appearance in the World Finals and it’s going to be great to extend a great African rivalry between the nations to this level.
Spain won the tournament back in 2004 and are likely to be Sinamuva’s sternest opposition in the opening rounds. Both Turkey and Switzerland have made it through to the final of the World competition twice in the past. Turkey were runners-up in 2000 and 2005, while Switzerland came second in 2006 and 2009.