THREE young future stars of South African football are set to embark on the trip of a lifetime when they travel to Manchester, England as a reward for being in the top three of the 2015 Future Players Gauteng Talent Search programme.
Male winners Itumeleng Bereng (Mosupatsela Secondary School) and Leonardo Rooi (R.W. Fick Secondary School) will be joined by budding female starlet Karabo Makhurubetshi (Thomas Mofolo Secondary School), as well as the winning coach Abel Mahlangene, on a journey that will broaden their horizons to the world of football.
The Future Players winners will be accompanied by representatives from Gauteng Provincial Government’s Department of Education and the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, who are partners in the programme.
The group will leave South Africa on September 6 to spend a week in one of England’s richest football regions.
“Just to go to England will be an amazing experience for me,” says Mahlangene. “It is somewhere I have always dreamed of visiting, but I never thought it would be possible. I must thank the Future Players initiative and the Gauteng Provincial Government for giving us this platform.”
The tour will start with a visit to the globally-acclaimed Manchester Football Museum, before they will be shown around Manchester United’s famous Carrington training base, where Sir Alex Ferguson masterminded so much success for the Red Devils down the years.
The group will then travel north to Sunderland AFC for a tour of the English Premier League side’s academy and to view a training session with the team.
“I know I will get a lot of tips out of the training sessions we will view,” Mahlangene continues. “I am going to take in as much as I can and bring that new knowledge back to South Africa. It is going to be very interesting to see the contrasting methods they use over there.”
After a tour of Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light ground, they will participate in a cultural exchange at a local school and the following day return to the Sunderland AFC Academy to watch more training and matches.
The highlight of the trip will undoubtedly be the English Premier League match between Sunderland AFC and Tottenham Hotspur that the group will attend on September 13, giving them the opportunity to take in the atmosphere of one of the best leagues in the world.
“It’s going to be amazing, you see the games on TV but you never dream you will be there. I am sure in the stadium the atmosphere will be even better.
It will give all of us, me and the young players, something to aspire to.” concluded Mahlangene.
The tour will then return to Manchester as they visit the newly refurbished home stadium of Manchester City, one of the great cathedrals of football in England.
The group will leave England on September 14, returning to South Africa via Abu Dhabi.
Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Ms Molebatsi Bopape, has wished the group a successful trip and urged them to grasp the magnificent opportunity.
“The Future Players initiative is an excellent programme in terms of providing a platform for young boys and girls to showcase their talent. We congratulate the 2015 winners and hope that they grab this opportunity to enjoy new experiences in England and on coming back they will help us achieve our vision to radically transform, modernise and reindustrialise our province through sport . We thank our partners in this initiative, Global Sports International and the Gauteng Department of Education, for assisting
us in giving these learners a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Ms Bopape says.
The Future Players initiative is open to youngsters aged 13 to 16, who are assessed by the coaches over a number of disciplines.
Aside from the football, there was also an important social responsibility aspect as all learners are given a presentation by both LoveLife and Grassroots Soccer.
“The Future Players programme is vital in helping to educate our learners about being responsible citizens. We are proud to have provided educational programmes to tens of thousands of learners down the years and we know that a great many of those have been able to change their view of the world based on that. We are delighted to be a part of this exceptional programme,” says Gauteng Department of Education MEC Mr Panyaza Lesufi.
In the past up to 10,000 learners per year have been assessed by qualified coaches, with the most notable being current Banyana Banyana star Refiloe Jane, who was discovered through the Future Players Gauteng Talent Search programme.