PMB soccer star’s future in the balance

2017-04-24 10:29
Steven Tonny (26) from Eastwood was selected from thousands of skilled young soccer players to attend the Safa- Transnet Football School of Excellence, but is now at his father’s garage fixing cars and hoping he gets an opportunity to resume his short-lived soccer career.

Steven Tonny (26) from Eastwood was selected from thousands of skilled young soccer players to attend the Safa- Transnet Football School of Excellence, but is now at his father’s garage fixing cars and hoping he gets an opportunity to resume his short-lived soccer career. (Ian Carbutt)

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The future of a local soccer player who was one of the few school children across the country selected for the prestigious Safa Football School of Excellence, is now in the balance.

Steven Tonny (26) from Eastwood, who in 2004 was picked from thousands of talented young soccer players for the exclusive school, based in Johannesburg, is now without a club.

Far from his dream of one day playing for one of the English soccer sides, Tonny now spends most of his time washing cars at his father’s vehicle repairs workshop.

It appears that the school, which has produced some of South Africa’s soccer greats such as Steven Pienaar, Bernard Parker, Daine Klate, Bryce Moon and Masilo Modubi, has not been able turn Tonny’s dream into reality.

Speaking to Weekend Witness, Tonny recalled how his soccer talent became evident at the tender age of six.

“I loved soccer but I never thought I was as good as people said I was. I never thought it could be a career for me.”

Tonny, better known as “Scara”, a nickname he inherited from his father who was also a prominent and well-known Pietermaritzburg soccer player, Patric “Scara” Tonny, joined the school in 2004 and played for the school’s soccer team.

After completing his matric, Tonny joined PSL outfit Platinum Stars, where he played for the Under-20 first division.

After a year of playing for Platinum Stars, Tonny’s future looked promising as international Swiss side FC Winterthur showed interest in him.

However, the talented player’s career hit the skids after the FC Winterthur deal fell through following a dispute with his agent.

“Ever since then things just went south.

“When I tried to go back to Platinum Stars it was under new management and they could not take me back and I had to come back home,” he said.

Other clubs Tonny played for included Cape Town’s Engen Santos and former National First Division side Blackburn Rovers.

“I decided to come back to Pietermaritzburg and played for Maritzburg City and Sobantu Shooting Stars.

“Ever since that I don’t have a team, I don’t have an agent. I keep fit by playing for my neighbourhood team called Eastwood Reunited,” said Tonny.

“I would love to be given another opportunity to play professional football.

“It is hard to get by now as I currently do not have an agent and cannot go into soccer clubs and ask for a trial.”

South African prominent soccer agent Mike Makaab said this kind of situation is not uncommon, as a number of talented young footballers do not have the proper guidance and mentorship.

“Remain humble, principled and ethical, respect your coaches, fellow footballers and the gift that you are so fortunate to be blessed with and above all else have a burning desire to be the best you possibly can,” said Makaab.

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi emphasised the importance of mentorship when it comes to young players.

“It all boils down to mentorship. We as Safa have a programme where we encourage soccer clubs throughout the country to offer proper mentorship to players.”

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