11 May 2010
For a group of youngsters, the international flavour of the Fifa World Cup™ came to South Africa a few weeks early as they took to the field for the 2010 National Schools Football Final, with each team “adopting” a World Cup participating nation.
The tournament, which took place at Marks Park Sports Club in Johannesburg on the weekend, forms part of the My 2010 School Adventure campaign.
The campaign, a partnership between the 2010 Local Organising Committee and the Departments of Basic Education, Arts and Culture, and Sport and Recreation, has seen over 8 000 schools around the country taking part in regional tournaments over the last few months, with the winners from the boys and girls u14 and u18 categories in each province representing at the national finals.
Having adopted Spain, Seiphemelo Secondary School from North West province won the main match of the finals. Such was the significance of the event that the main game, the boys under 18 final, along with nine other games, was televised on sports channel Supersport.
What the children did not know was that, as a reward for going so far in the campaign, 5 000 World Cup tickets were made available to the young players through the 2010 Fifa World Cup Ticket Fund.
“I feel great about the campaign because it ensures that young people like myself are removed from the streets and from participating in unsavoury activities and instead are given the opportunity to participate in something meaningful,” said Seiphemulo Secondary School student Lucky Matinyane.
“Some of us come from poor families, so we would not have had the opportunity to attend a World Cup game had it not been for this initiative.”
Despite falling short at the final hurdle, Buddy Dodovu from the Keurhof Special School said he felt “very good and excited about the My 2010 Schools Adventure, because it gives us the feeling that the World Cup is really here.
“I feel we have gained a lot from this experience because we’ve heard that there are a lot of academies that will be recruiting from these finals,” Dodovu said.
The National Football Finals were contested by both boys and girls in the under 14, under 18, and Learners with Special Educational Needs divisions.