By FOCUS REPORTER
The third stop in the 2011 Gauteng Future Champions Talent Search programme will take place this Saturday, February 19 at the Kwa Thema Sport Complex when learners will be put through their paces as they try to prove they have the skills to become professional footballers.
The Talent Search, which is being run in conjunction with the Gauteng Department of Education, is in its third year and has already hosted successful events in 2011 at Moletsane and Ennadale, where more than a 1 000 learners have put their talent to the test.
Saturday’s event in Kwa Thema is for learners aged 14-16 from the Gauteng East and Ekurhuleni South regions. It follows the successful hosting of the event last weekend in Ennadale, where a total of 13 coaches put the learners through their paces.
But as much as the Talent Search is there to unearth fresh playing talent, it is also an important programme for coaches too. A register is being kept for the duration of the Talent Search for the most committed coach to win an all expenses paid trip overseas for further training.
The criteria for winning will not only include consistent attendance, but also skills assessment during the Coaching Clinic to be held the week of the 2011 Gauteng Future Champions International Tournament.
Last year’s winner was Sphiwe Tsotetsi, who went to Brazil to study the training methods at the world-famous academies of Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro. He says the experience of both the Talent Search and his South American trip have been invaluable.
“Most important for me has been to observe the different training methods that are applied to the different age-groups of learners,” Tsotetsi says. “A lot of coaches will train players the same way whether they are Under-10 or Under-16 and this is not right. There are specific exercises that should only apply to certain age groups.
“Brazil was a great experience in terms of seeing the training methods they apply in a week, how they break up the training and work to a programme so that it is not repetitive and remains interesting for the youngsters,” Tsotetsi adds.
Aside from the football training and the coaching, each learner who participates in the Talent Search also undergoes a life skills programme. It is a 45-minute curriculum course, which taps the power and popularity of football to break stigmas, dramatically increase awareness and change behaviors to combat HIV/Aids.
Other supporters of the Talent Search are Pick ‘n Pay, who provide food and drink for all the participating learners on each day, and sportswear giant Nike, who provide the footballing gear for the coaches.
The finals of the Talent Search will be held during the 2011 Gauteng Future Champions tournament that will be held from March 28 to April 2, where the top three young individuals will be chosen. The winners will embark on a trip of a lifetime overseas, where they will visit and train at a top international club.
The Talent Search, now in its third year, saw Soweto’s Refiloe Jane win in 2009, and she, along with runners-up, Tshwane’s Frans Kagiso Kekana and Daveyton’s Sibusiso Molefe, headed off for a dream trip to Manchester, England, organised by international sports firm Global Sports International, where they trained with some of the best young players in the Under-17 age-group from around the world.
In 2010, the Talent Search produced winners in young rising stars Rorisang Tlhabane, Andile Nqabeni and Sboniso Mncwabe, who went to Belo Horizonte in Brazil for a week of training at the youth academies of top Brazilian clubs Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro in December.
Organisers of the Talent Search are hopeful of having a total of 10 000 participants from the nine events in 2011, having topped the 6 000 mark last year.
Talent search days are:
19/02/11 Kwa Thema Sport Complex Gauteng East, Ekurhuleni South
26/02/11 Marivhate Sport Complex Ekurhuleni North, Johannesburg East
05/03/11 Green Hills Soccer Fields Gauteng West, Johannesburg West
06/03/11 Old Ridge Park Sedibeng East, Sedibeng West
12/03/11 HM Pitje Stadium Tshwane South, Gauteng North
13/03/11 Soshanguve Block X Sport Complex Tshwane North, Tshwane West
19/03/11 Moletsane Sport Complex Semi-final