The Mamelodi Sundowns ever-dynamic academy structures have constantly placed premium emphasis on the personal, physical, technical, tactical, psychological and social development of youngsters under its care.
For this reason, the club has become an institution that is famed for its prolific player output as the Chloorkop-side continues to churn out some of the most exciting talents in South Africa and beyond.
In a bid to further develop grassroots football and recruitment at the club, the reigning Premier Soccer League Champions hired Duan Baker, an analytical scout who is also coaching the Under-11 team.
Baker spent the majority of his career in the Mother City, where he was a youth coach at Ajax Cape Town (now known as Cape Town Spurs). The analytical scout was full of praise for the current Sundowns Under-11 team he is presently coaching.
“Enabling youngsters to develop their potential is something that excites me. An Under-11 team is a group of young and talented kids who are very passionate about playing football. They do not play in the Gauteng Development League (GDL), but we have a mechanism for getting some of the fast-rising players to join the Under-13 team to participate in the GDL. We have a good mix of kids (both girls and boys) from different cultural backgrounds within the group, which is a good thing.”
A quick look at the Mamelodi Sundowns Under-11 team shows a host of exciting talent ready and waiting for a chance to make the giant leap to the next level. One of such is Captain Andile Nkosi who has duly impressed the former Cape Town Spurs youth coach, “Andile is a hugely talented boy who has shown flashes of brilliance and confidence at such a young age. He is the skipper of the team and his leadership skills have been noteworthy. He is cool and calm with the ball and that is a great trait to possess at such a tender age.
Baker further spoke on his long-term ambitions for the bubbling Under-11 team, “My sole purpose is to build a solid foundation for the higher grade teams. I want these players to be fully equipped with all the basic elements of the round leather game so that as they climb through the ranks, they are battle-ready to excel in the various positions they find themselves in. My main objective for the young squad is to play quick fun football while possessing a winning mentality.
At Mamelodi Sundowns football club, the overall academy set-up is intentional and beneficial for youngsters. Both Coach Sam Mbatha (Head of Academy) and Coach Shawn Bishop (Head of Methodology) have set up an environment that constantly seeks to adapt to the modern aspects of the game whilst working on the mental and holistic aspects of young players.
More so, the Motsepe family has continued to invest in modern and revolutionary developmental projects that are aimed at ensuring that Sundowns continues to nurture talented footballers for the first team, the nation and beyond.
Baker took time out to thank the influential figures who have played their part in enhancing grassroots football at the club, “The contributions of the gaffers (Sam and Shawn) cannot be overstated. I am so excited to work with them on this project and I am looking forward to achieving more milestones together. I also praise the Motsepe family for their evergreen support. The future is truly bright for the club,” Baker concluded.
Bafana Ba Style has always prioritised the modern approach to grassroots football development and Baker’s appointment to handle the Under 11 is another step in the right direction.