Over the weekend, the Mamelodi Sundowns youth development teams, consisting of players and coaches, competed in various tournaments, reaffirming the club’s commitment to developing young talent and creating a bright future for South African soccer.
Clapham High School, under the expert guidance of Coaches Lunga Nobela and Simon Blangwe, put up an impressive display in the inaugural CAF African Schools Football Championship. The coaches led the South African side to the final, where they faced CS Ben Sekou Sylla from Guinea.
The Coach Nobela-Blangwe-led side, unfortunately, lost on penalties to the Guineans after a thrilling 1-1 draw, played in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 6,000 people at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban. Despite the defeat, Coach Lunga expressed his pride in the team’s performance and highlighted several lessons that have been learned.
“I am delighted that our team participated in the competition. It highlighted the importance of the work we do as academy coaches, and it showed that it should not be underestimated. The tournament provided us with an opportunity to assess our technical abilities and identify areas where we need to improve. From a tactical perspective, we recognized the need to have more confidence in our team’s abilities. The competition also allowed us to play against physically strong teams, which helped us assess our physical approach to the game and pinpoint areas where we need to improve. Overall, we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the competition and look forward to applying the knowledge gained in future games,” Coach Nobela stated.
Aside from clinching the silver medal, Clapham High School was well-represented in the award categories as Kagiso Maloka clinched the Best Player award at the tournament. Coach Simon believes that Maloka is just one of several players who are destined for great things.
“I am confident that over 90% of this team consists of exceptional players who have the potential to excel in the sport. Kagiso Maloka stands out with his exceptional skills and his success in 1v1 situations. Kabelo Sibande impresses with his impressive physical attributes and cleverness on the ball. Additionally, Lethukuthula Masonda brings versatility to the field with his ability to play any position and his strong physical build. I see a bright future for these players, as many have the potential to play at a high level and some may even earn international opportunities. For a club like Mamelodi Sundowns, with its well-established development structure, investing in these talented players is a wise decision that is likely to yield positive results,” said Coach Blangwe.
In Cape Town, Coaches Michael Manzini and Tiro van Rooyen led some of the Mamelodi Sundowns youth players as the Bayhill Premier Cup took center stage.
Despite suffering a shock exit in the Round of 16 at the hands of Hellenic, Coach Tiro believes that the experience gained from participating in the tournament will be invaluable for the team’s future success.
“The Bayhill tournament provided our boys with exposure to different styles of football and facing these opponents offered them valuable experience. This tournament offered a unique opportunity for growth and development and the players greatly benefited from the challenges and experiences they encountered. It wouldn’t be a surprise if some of these players become future stars in the sport as they have been allowed to develop their skills and gain valuable experience at a young age. Perhaps in the future, I can say “I told you so” when they do reach their peak,” said Coach Tiro.
Some members of the young Masandawana also participated in the highly anticipated inaugural edition of the Transition Football U17 Tournament at Pinnacle College Kyalami, under the guidance of Coach Selekedi Mogale, the Under 17 Academy Assistant Coach at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Despite falling at the quarterfinal stage of the Easter Cup, Coach Selekedi has high aspirations for the current group of young players, “I have great hopes for these young boys despite their early exit from the competition. I believe in their potential and hope that they can see it too. They need to pick themselves up and not just focus on winning team tournaments, but also on individual accolades. I hope that many of them can step out of their comfort zones and showcase their unique talents on the field whenever they are called upon. I am confident that with the right mindset and effort, these young players can go on to achieve great things in their football careers and make a positive impact both on and off the field.”
The future looks bright for South African soccer and the Mamelodi Sundowns youth development program is undoubtedly playing a crucial role in shaping it. We look forward to watching these young players continue to grow and succeed as they strive to reach their full potential!!!