A year of exciting development with soccer and life skills training for over 600 school boys culminated in a tournament at Lusaka Sports Complex in Swaneville on the West Rand last weekend, to celebrate the year and give the players the opportunity to pit their burgeoning soccer skills against each other.
The Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy’s 2016 Season Closing Tournament featured three divisions – Under-12, U-14, and U-16 with the top teams from the Academy playing round-robin games to determine the overall winning teams. At the end of the one-day tournament, all teams received a certificate and medal for participating, and trophies were presented to winning teams, selected top players and coaches from the season.
Showing their support at the tournament were ambassadors of the programme, former Bafana Bafana captain, Lucas Radebe, and former SuperSport United and current Kaizer Chiefs player, Morgan Gould.
Says Shanda Paine, Tsogo Sun’s Group CSI Manager, “Soccer is a universal language and it has proved to be an excellent catalyst for all-round development of our participating youngsters, with a strong focus on life skills, values, and academic success. The aim of the programme, while effective in providing a healthy extra-mural activity, is also to provide youngsters with opportunities to become responsible young adults through an approach that also identifies and develops sporting talent and tertiary education opportunities.”
The Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy, which is sponsored by Silverstar Casino, has 629 learners in 64 teams from 35 Mogale City schools – 25 primary and 10 high schools – who participated in the School League during the year. In addition, the Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy also includes a talent development programme consisting of four teams – U14 / U15 / U17 / U19 – that are made up of players from across all the schools in the programme and that have joined the highly competitive Soweto Football Association League. They are a selection of the strongest players who show the greatest potential in the game combined with strong off the field discipline and commitment.
The Academy has been operating in various communities on the West Rand since 2010, providing weekly training and interschool league matches, talent identification and development, as well as life skills development to encourage youngsters to reach their full potential.
The Academy has five full-time coaches, five volunteer assistant coaches, and 64 school coaches, and provides a platform for coaches to develop their coaching skills through various programme-related courses. Recently, two of the coaches, Gift Mokguo and Sammy Magalefa, successfully completed a Sports Management diploma through Boston Business College.
The tournament has also become a good hunting ground for soccer scouts and several talented young players have been scouted by clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs, Bidvest Wits, Supersport United and Orlando Pirates over the years – and are doing well.
Paine says that the Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy programme is strongly supported by the local district of the Gauteng Department of Education. “We have a strong collaboration with local school district officials, schools and their educators, as well as the parents of the young players, and how we all work together to equip their children to make better choices throughout their lives,” she adds.