Limpopo School enters the Danone Nations Cup soccer tournament for the first time and will be assisted by a player who competed in France in 2000
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Danone Nations Cup and what better way to celebrate this milestone than by bringing in a player who competed in the first world final that took place in Parc des Princes stadium, Paris, France in 2000?
Ausborn Famu was 12 years old in 2000 and he played in the competition’s Limpopo Provincial Finals. To his delight he was selected, together with fellow Limpopo youngster, George Maluleke (currently playing midfield at Kaizer Chiefs) for the National team that went on to compete in the Danone World Finals against seven other countries.
His performance in the tournament earned him a scholarship to attend the School of Excellence where he completed grades 8 to 12 (2001-2005).
In 2006 he went to Port Elizabeth and joined Bay United, and in 2008 he played for Mpumalanga Black Aces. Education then became his focus and he studied IT support through Unisa which he completed in 2013.
Recently Famu, an ardent Mamelodi Sundowns fan, decided to move back to Polokwane and open an NPO focusing on sports development. The project is in its infancy and in the process of building and while this happens he will also be joining his childhood friend, Phatundi Maila to prepare the under-12 team from Kawene Higher Primary School that will be competing in the Danone Nations Cup for the first time.
Kawene Higher Primary is based in My Darling township, just outside Polokwane. Maila was appointed the under-12 head coach at the school this year and his first task was to register for the prestigious Danone Nations Cup and to hold trials to select the best team for the tournament. He understands that it’s a highly competitive tournament, featuring the finest schools in South Africa, but he believes that with the help of his friend, Famu, they will do well in their first year.
“Competing in France at the age of 12 years old was a dream come true,” said Famu. “I learnt a lot from the experience. George and I were the only two players from Limpopo selected and playing with youngsters from all the different provinces was inspiring. We learnt different skills, playing formations, discipline, how to make friends and, most importantly, the power of team spirit and sportsmanship. That trip changed my life and I can say with confidence that I am a better person for going.”
Famu doesn’t remember a lot about the teams they competed against. “There were only eight countries that participated that year. The games that I particularly remember is playing against Italy and Romania. We didn’t reach the final, we were knocked out on penalties in the final positioning games.”
Maila is excited to have his childhood friend back to assist in preparations for the Danone Nations Cup. “I was a good player in my day. I was not selected to go to France and compete in the world finals, but I did attend the provincial finals and I know the tournament well as I have followed it over the years.
“I always knew that once I had completed my Bachelor or Education, which I achieved in 2013, and joined a school, I would enroll that school in the tournament,” said Maila who teaches home language (Sepedi), Life Skills, Economic, Management Sciences and Social Science to grades 4 to 7.
“I believe passion is the key to a successful coach,” said Maila. “You also need experience on the field. You cannot teach players something you don’t know about. Coaching is not just about instructing players, but also about building and maintaining relationships, inspiring your team and teaching the importance of health and fitness. Your heart must be in helping the youth and I believe I am the best for the job, with the help of my friend, Ausborn Famu. We know that there are excellent schools in the province such as Benny’s Sports, but we are up for the challenge.”
“It’s a privilege for Danone to be involved in this prestigious tournament,” said Chantel Ehlers, Internal Communications Manager, Danone Southern Africa. “South Africa is one of very few countries that has been competing in the tournament every year since its inception in 2000. The tournament has inspired millions of youngsters around the world to believe in their dreams and develop healthy eating habits that will benefit them throughout their lives.
This year coincides with our centenary year and we have decided to host a spectacular double final in the place where Danone first began – Barcelona. We are using this milestone and the power of football to make a strong connection to our ‘One Planet. One Health’ brand platform.”
The tournament is run under the auspices of the South African Schools Football Association (SASFA) who collate registration forms, finalise dates and fixtures and manage the games at cluster, regional, provincial and national level.
Games will kick-off at cluster level in March culminating in the national final to be held, at a venue to be decided, in June or July. The World Finals are expected to take place in early October (dates to be confirmed).
“Health and nutrition are at the heart of Danone and we have made it our mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible. To positively impact on the health of our people, we acknowledge that exercise is as important as eating well and so we have invested in soccer, the biggest sport in the country, to assist us in achieving our goals,” concluded Ehlers.
Schools can register for the competition by contacting the national coordinator at the SA Schools Football Association (SASFA), Themba Tshabalala, firstname.lastname@example.org or on 011 403 2844, 084 290 0602 or 072 588 4957. Alternatively, they can visit the Danone Nations Cup South Africa Facebook page or go to www.facebook.com/dncsouthafrica to download the necessary documents. The documents are also available on www.danone.co.za.
INFO SUPPLIED BY Kassey Belluigi.