AFTER months of searching for the best Under-19 players, the journey for the KZN Academy selectors culminated in Cato Manor this past weekend, where once again aspiring footballers were given a chance showcase their skills, in a quest to make the cut for the 2015 KZN Academy XI ahead of the Durban U-19 International Tournament.
Through this selection initiative Hoy Park Management in partnership with the South African Football Association, KZN Provincial Government, and eThekwini Municipality not only look at producing future stars but also inspire youngsters to believe in their dreams and become and inspiration to their peers through football.
A team of experienced scouts led by Parlo Cardoso – Technical Director of KZN Academy, selected 33 players, who reported for a pre-camp this past Sunday.
Players who make it will join an intensive three days training camp scheduled for June 29-July 1 to trim the squad to approximately 20 players to represent KwaZulu-Natal at the forthcoming SAFA Interprovincial Tournament.
One man who knows more about KwaZulu-Natal development structures is Umzimkhulu born and Mamelodi Sundown’s Assistant Coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who himself spent most of his coaching career in the province.
Mngqithi who had the opportunity to attend some of the U-19 Provincial Tournament matches believes South Africa has a long way to go to catch up with European clubs in terms of development, but believes with new initiatives such as the Durban Under -19 International Tournament, will channel the country into the right direction.
“It was exciting to see the hunger in those youngsters faces. It is clear that we have plenty of talent in the province and this initiative came at the right time, looking at the number of professional teams within the province. We need successful development structures.”
“This platform will afford these youngsters an opportunity to have their talent recognized by the best football scouts in the world and some will be fortunate to go make a career out of football.
For the 2015 Durban U-19 Football Tournament, the country will see a specially formed KZN Academy XI U19 side and the SA U-19 side competing in the showpiece, along long with internationals giants Arsenal FC (England), Celtic FC (Scotland), PSV Eindhoven (England), Stuttgart (Germany), Galatasaray (Turkey) and AC Milan (Italy).
The Tournament is scheduled for 29 July and 08 August, with the Sugar Ray Xulu and King Zwelithini Stadiums hosting both group stages and the semi-finals at Princess MagogoStadium. The 2010 World Cup Moses Mabhida Stadium will host the final.