Mafikeng adopts Obama’s team

16 March 2009

The strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” were heard at Redibone Middle School in Mafikeng, North West province on Friday as South Africa’s “My 2010 School Adventure” campaign arrived at the school.

The campaign, which aims to promote both education and participation in football, has seen schools in all nine of the country’s provinces “adopting” teams participating in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.

Along with the rest of North West province, Redibone Middle School – whose under 14 boys and girls teams won the North West region’s Confederations Cup schools tournament, which also part of the campaign – have adopted North American Concacaf champions the United States.

“I am very excited about South Africa hosting the Fifa Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup, as it is such a world-spanning tournament and the first time the African continent is hosting such an event,” US Consul General Andrew Passen said as he addressed 1 000 pupils at the school on Friday.

“You are not only a school of champions,” Passen told the children. “You are in fact a school of double champions. I really hope I get to watch my province become the national champions,” Passen added, referring to the upcoming national finals of the schools tournament, which will see the four finalists from each province battle it out for the title of national champions in May.

“I felt so good when we won, but we are now training very hard for the national finals,” said Reginah Olehile, a member of the under-14 girls team.

“It is great to have won, because I want the opportunity to play as much football as I can, I want to play professionally, I want to play for Bafana”, said Omphile Lemphane, a forward for the under-14 boys team.

A total of 8 349 schools across South Africa are participating in My 2010 School Adventure, which also sees pupils learning more about the culture, football, history and language of Confederations Cup contenders Spain, Italy, Brazil, Iraq, New Zealand, Egypt and South Africa.

“I am learning so much about America, and now I want to go there myself,” Lemphane said. “I want to meet Barack Obama.”

The programme is a partnership between the Department of Education, the Department of Sport and Recreation, the 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee, and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

SAinfo reporter and the 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee

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