Spirit of Ubuntu will be felt at CAF African Schools Football Championship

The South African Boys’ team that will fly the country’s flag at the CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifiers, Zimbabwe 2023 from December 14-16 all hail from the Ubuntu Football Academy School in Cape Town.

Most of the 10 competing nation are sending squads made up of the best players from their national qualification phase, but as with last year’s winners Clapham High School, the South African entrant will come from a single team.

And Ubuntu have a rich recent heritage, having supplied an impressive list of players for Bafana Bafana and the junior national teams. They even have a current Zimbabwe international as a former student!

The side will be led by head coach Dave Waters, who also doubles up as academy director, and he will be assisted by Siyabulela Qangule.

“We are hugely encouraged to see a long list of graduates go on to achieve great things in various fields,” Waters says. “A total of 22 players have gone on to receive academic scholarships in the USA and 25 players have signed for professional clubs in South Africa and overseas.

“In all, 28 players have received junior nation team call-ups, with Jesse Donn, Luke Fleurs, Antonio Van Wyk having received senior call-ups for South Africa too.

“Added to that, Munashe Garananga has received a call-up to the senior national team squad of Zimbabwe. Munashe has this season played in the UEFA Europa League with Romanian side Sheriff Tiraspol.

“Five of our current team playing in the PAN African Schools Championships were recently called into the South Africa Under-15 national team training camp.”

Waters says there is great excitement with the camp for their visit to the regional finals in Harare.

“This is the first time we have entered into any schools football competition or tournament, so to win the South African qualifier of the CAF African Schools Football Championship at our first attempt was a huge encouragement to all!” he says.

“The experiences from the tournament so far for the boys is fantastic to help give them greater life skills experiences, such as travelling on a plane, interacting with other high-performance athletes (at the national finals) and, of course, the experience of performing when it matters most.

There is no doubt Ubuntu will be in it to win it in Harare, but there is more to be gained than regional success, according to Waters.

“Confidence is probably the key word. Confidence to know that they can go and achieve things that they never knew was possible. Confidence that they can perform under pressure, confidence that they can navigate international travel, airports and the like, and confidence to know they can effectively and appropriately handle themselves socially amongst adults and peers from around the continent.”

Ubuntu have players from all over Cape Town and far beyond in their team, which Waters says is another strength.

“Whilst South Africa has many significant challenges, the diversity of cultures and backgrounds when positively brought together brings out an amazing beauty,” he says. “At Ubuntu, we hugely embrace diversity, and by incorporating boys, and now girls, from a wide cross-section of Cape Town and surrounding areas, we seek to inspire those we come into contact with through not just great football, but through amazing human interaction.”

The draw for the 10-team CAF African Schools Football Championship | COSAFA Qualifier will be made in Harare ahead of the tournament.