Willows Primary School’s under-11 players were determined to showcase their talents, and were among the schools that took part in a tournament organised by the English Premiership side Chrystal Palace, at the Heideveld sports field, last week.
The youngsters were not going to miss that opportunity as Palace legend Mark Bright was among their audience on the day – they were extra-motivated.
And, the Willows boys side did impress, winning three of their four matches – beating St Theresa Primary School 2-1, Heideveld Primary 3-0, before drawing 0-0 with Welcome Primary school to book their place in the semi finals, on Sunday.
The semis as well as the finals formed part of Sunday’s BPL Live event, which took place at Camps Bay High School.
The Willows boys team impressed there, too, winning their division after beating Sentinel Primary School 3-0 in the semis before overcoming the International School 2-1 in the final.
Coach Silindokuhle Mlonyeni said that was not something small for his players as opportunities like that are few and far apart, especially in that age group.
That, he said, was exactly why they were still excited about their achievement a day after their victory.
“Our players, and those from other schools in our community, were not going to let that opportunity to slip past them as they didn’t know when the next one would come.
“You could see that players were excited to be part of this programme, and more initiatives of this kind could only mean more exposure to our players.
“Yes, they know how to play football, in terms of the basics, but tournaments like this give them extra incentives in terms of the motivation to do even better,” he said.
Mlonyeni said the programme was also beneficial for him as an aspiring young coach.
“I was exposed to another perspective to coaching which is good for my development in that regard.
“Now I will be able use what I’ve already know about coaching – my raw talent – and combine it with the few new things I’ve leant in order to become better at what I do,” he said.
His counter-part from St Theresa Primary School, Nkosikhona Komani agreed.
This, he said, was because all the players, irrespective of whether they won something or not, left the field more inspired at the end of the day-long tournament.
“They know there is even more reason to play soccer and that is what we want to see.
“We want to see youngsters, from as early age as possible, getting more interested in sport.
“And it is programmes like these that help instil that love of the sport,” said Komani.
Heideveld residents Thomas Gertse, Wallace Diedericks and Stanley Poggenpoel watched with keen interest from the sidelines as the youngsters expressed their skills.
They said they were impressed by what they saw on Thursday. Also, that they don’t miss a sports match at the Heideveld sports field.
“That is what we want to see, children using their community’s sportsfields anytime of the week without worrying that anything would happen to them,” said Diedericks.
Gertse agreed. He said he also hoped events like that do not become a once a while thing as that would mean they don’t serve their purpose.