A soccer team from Nomlinganiselo Primary School returned to a heroes welcome on Tuesday morning after taking part in the Danon Nations Cup in Barcelona, Spain, last week.
The Nyanga-based under-12 team had won the right to represent South Africa in the game after beating Charles Morgan Primary School from the Eastern Cape in a penalty shootout in the national final held in Dobsonville early in the year.
Deputy principal, Dumiswa Skosana, who travelled with the team said the boys had been “overwhelmed with what they saw there”.
“They saw soccer greats like Zidane and Puyol in flesh and there was disbelief in their eyes,” said Ms Skosana.
She said the team played seven games, lost three and drew four times.
“In our first game we lost 2-0 to Indonesia, second game we held Bulgaria to a 1-1 all draw.
“The most difficult game was against Brazil, the boys were terrified but gave a good account of themselves despite losing 7-0 in the end. They contained Brazil because it was the least margin that it had scored against opponents on the first day,” she said.
Coach Khris Njokwana said they went back to the drawing board and on the second day strikers, Zenande Ndlundayi and Elona Ndongeni started finding the net and scoring five and two goals respectively.
The team played their last game against Morocco and lost but were given the Fifa Fair Play Award for discipline on and off the field.
This year, 21 boys’ teams and eight girls’ teams took part in the games.
Known as the World Cup for children, the Danone Nations Cup is the world’s largest international soccer tournament for 10- to 12-year-olds – more than 2.5 million boys and girls compete every year.
South Africa is one of the few countries that has been participating since it started in 2000 and the event has touched the lives of more than 50 000 young South Africans.
A proud parent, Noluthando Mbala, who was one of many at the Cape Town International Airport who had come to welcome the team, said she was very excited.
“I am happy that they have returned home with medals and such great experience,” Mbala said.