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Back You are here: Home Sports Soccer Western Cape Soccer: Edgemead's Winning Streak Continues
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:03

Soccer: Edgemead's Winning Streak Continues

Edgemead High School’s 1st boys’ soccer team first appeared in our magazine as winners of the newly formed Cape Town Schools’ Soccer League. Three years later they remain unbeaten in this league.

At the conclusion of the 2011 season, their winning streak stood at 31 matches, with 109 goals scored and only 19 conceded since 2009. They also won the 2010 Parklands College 6-a-side tournament during which they did not concede a single goal. Grade 9 pupil Matthew van Blerk was named Player of the Tournament at this event.

 

 

Edgemead’s soccer achievements are not confined to the league either. Three of the 2009 team members have gone on to study coaching and all have returned to the school to share their skills with younger players. Former captain Justin Matthews is currently putting Edgemead’s 1st girls’ team through their paces.

 

In 2010 goalkeeper Steven Hoffmann was selected for the South African u/17 team that toured Argentina, before joining the Bidvest Wits Academy in 2011.

 

In 2011, new goalkeeper Tristan Woudberg was taken into the respected African Soccer Development Academy. Four 1st team players (Matthew van Blerk, Jason le Roux, Byron Nixon and Darren Fern) were selected for their district teams. Darren and Byron then went on to compete at the SA Games in Polokwane as members of the u/19 Western Province team.

 

2011 matriculant Chad Drury was invited for trials at Portugal’s 1st division club Nacional at the end of last year, as well as at Glasgow Celtic in January 2012. Instead, he has decided to accept an invitation for trials at Ajax Cape Town. Here he joins fellow past pupils Michael Kwong, Jody Bruce and Matthew Rowell, who have all played at the club for a number of years.

 

Goalkeeper Darren Keet, formerly of Wits in the PSL, matriculated from EHS in 2007 and is now playing for FC Kortrijk in the Belgian First Division.

 

After the record breaking season in 2010, critics remarked that the school’s league didn’t offer the 1st team any real competition and that their unbeaten streak wouldn’t be intact if they played schools outside their league. In 2011 St Andrew’s Scots School from Argentina pencilled EHS into their touring schedule and were duly defeated for their efforts. (Final score 4-2 to Edgemead) This year the team’s record will again be tested against Truro School from the United Kingdom.

 

 “To create a thriving team environment,” he says, “you need to make everyone in the team feel responsible and accountable"

 

We asked 1st team manager Cecily Roos to share some of her team’s winning secrets with us. This petite blonde lady also heads up the sport of boys’ soccer at the school. “We have a lot of natural talent” she says modestly. “Sometimes I think there must be something in the water here in Edgemead! But we must also give credit to our local clubs (Edgemead and Bothasig FC) who train these boys up from a young age. Some of our local primary schools don’t offer soccer as a school sport, yet our Grade 8 boys come into the school already comfortable and skilled on the field.”

 

“We also have an incredibly dedicated coach,” she continues. “Samuel Andrade joined Edgemead’s coaching staff in 2008, but was quickly promoted to take over the 1st team in 2009. He has an incredible ability to bring out the strengths of the players he works with. Each year he changes his system of play to suit the individuals in the team.”

 

But there is obviously more to the system than natural talent. Since 2009 each member of the team has been expected to sign a contract at the start of the season. This requires the players to act as examples for younger players in the school, both onChad Drury and off the field. Their academic progress and behaviour in school are monitored throughout the year.

 

A lot of this is based on Coach Andrade’s personal approach. “To create a thriving team environment,” he says, “you need to make everyone in the team feel responsible and accountable. If you make them feel they’re backed and believed in they will want to come to school and wake up in the morning motivated for the day and training. Developing young men and pushing them beyond their limitations is made easier in this environment.”

 

The soccer management team also noticed in 2009 that some players were coming to training and matches without having eaten a proper lunch. They then went out into the community to find sponsors, who now provide both pre and post-match nutrition for the team. ­Butch Pritchard from BP Letchworth, John Matthews from Garden Cities and Natalie from Pick ‘n Pay Plattekloof have all been loyal sponsors for the past few seasons.

 

Another initiative started by the team is an annual soccer clinic that they run at a local underprivileged primary school. Members of the team share not only soccer skills, but also the lessons that they have learned from their own soccer program. The clinic has been so successful that the school’s 1st rugby team has followed suit to form their own clinic as well. This year the soccer team is also planning to raise funds for sports equipment that they will donate during their clinic.

 

Newly-elected 2012 captain Matthew van Blerk had the following to say: “It was a great privilege to play football with the younger children of Garden Village Primary School. After the experience, we realised how much we had. It definitely brought the team together, and the smiles on the faces of the children were really rewarding.” “I would definitely like to do a soccer clinic again,” said Jason le Roux, “as I really enjoyed teaching others about soccer.”

 

 "The secret to winning football games is working more as a team and less as individuals"

 

The team has their own ideas about what makes them so successful. We spoke to captain Matthew van Blerk and Jesse Williams, both of whom are currently playing in their fourth season for the school. Both talk about hard work put in by the players and the way their team works together as a unit. They are also quick to mention the role that their coach and manager play in motivating the team.

 

“Each year coach selects players who are committed and focused and share a great love for the game,” says Jesse. “One of the most enjoyable things about school soccer is that it brings you closer to people you’ve never known before.” Like any teenage boy, he adds “…and all the food we get!”

 

“Our coach also encourages us always to play positive football” Matthew agrees. “And the support and effort put in by our manager also allows us to play to the best of our ability.”

 

2009 captain Justin Matthews also sings the praises of the system at Edgemead High: “Soccer at school was always somewhat disorganised and gung-ho,” he comments, “ but with Miss Roos and Coach Sam taking over at the beginning of 2009 it has become one of the most organised and structured sporting codes at the school. Because of the legacy that they have created, I have been drawn to ‘give back’ to the school now by applying my skills as a coach. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to come back and mentor the new captains each year. My year of soccer at in 2009 is one that I will always remember fondly and captaining the 1st team was also a personal highlight. To my knowledge we were the only Edgemead High school team in any sport to have had a 100% win record for a season and I’m really proud of that.”

 

The 2012 team will have big shoes to fill, having lost a number of strong Matric players at the end of last year. Having said that, there is a strong core of players remaining in the side and with Grade 11’s Liam Jonkers and gwcr1hua Pretorius showing a lot of promise as they debut this season, Coach Andrade is confident about the season to come. He believes that winning is not only about scores on the field, but also about a commitment to excellence.

 

Knute Rockne once said: “The secret to winning football games is working more as a team and less as individuals.” This team certainly seems to understand that concept and we wish them well as they begin their 2012 season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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