Youngsters tend to be disorientated by new and overwhelming experiences, says Mamelodi Sundowns talent scout
A classic case of stage fright put paid to Kimberley Technical High School’s (THS) winning the gold medal at the recent Copa Coca-Cola championships, according to team manager Melvyn Merafe.
THS was among five candidates who made the cut to the Northern Cape provincial finals of the annual competition. The other teams, including eventual tournament winner Orion High from De Aar, were Concordia High from the Springbok area, Gamohana High from Kuruman and Carlton van Heerden from Upington.
In his review of his charges’ performance last Saturday Merafe said the two losses recorded earlier that morning was purely because of stage fright among the team members. “My kids got stage fright, that’s why we lost the first two games,” Merafe told the DFA.
THS later went on to win their last two games and ended up as silver medalists. The team had last year made it as far as the regional finals of the same competition, and Merafe said they planned on taking the next provincial finals by storm.
The manager’s remarks about stage fright were obliquely supported by the Mamelodi Sundowns talent scout Mandla Mazibuko who commented along the tournament sidelines about young players making it on the big stage.
Mazibuko said that in his experience it was common for youngsters to be disorientated by new and overwhelming experiences such as travelling by plane, arriving at airports for the first time or playing away from home.
He said a team like Sundowns has a tactic for helping youngsters overcome this type of occurrence. They first expose youngsters early to sharing living spaces and then familiarise them with inter-town travel. They also take them abroad, when needed, at an early age to get them acclimated to foreign situations.
Orion High coach Lionel Kok who has led teams to five Coca-Cola championships thus far, said they had put a lot of energy into their preparations for the Copa Coca-Cola finals. Kok said Orion even went as far as asking all players to turn up for practice during the winter school vacations.
The team also went as far as asking the Local Football Association in the Pixley ka Seme district to play some games in their league. The LFA helped them with 12 games.
“We worked very hard to be here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Carlton van Heerden coach Sylvester Mathys said he was very disappointed at his players after their third-place finish. “They froze at the sight of being in their first ever provincial play-offs,” he said.
The team lost two, drew one and won a only single game. He himself had been to several youth tournaments over the past five years but said “this one was just a bit too far for me”.