Crème de la crème

2011-06-04 16:59

Thulani “Cream” Serero unquestionably stands out among all the ­players who have emerged from Soweto’s ­Senaoane ­Gunners to become household names.

It was at this amateur club that the 21-year-old cut his teeth before developing into a top-class midfielder at Ajax Cape Town en route to his multimillion rand transfer last week to the Eredivisie giants, Ajax ­Amsterdam, in Holland.

Other than Serero there are six other apprentices who have come through the ranks at the ­Soweto outfit since Mike Ntombela revived the club in 1998.

They are Orlando ­Pirates midfielder Clifford ­Ngobeni, Ajax defender Thulani Hlatshwayo,

SuperSport United’s Jabulani Maluleke and the Dynamos duo of Vusimuzi Vilakazi and Nhlanhla Mahlangu (formerly Majola) as well as Black Leopards defender Edward Tshabalala.

“The club has always been close to my heart and I am happy to see these boys making their way up the ranks,” said Ntombela, the legendary former Wits University and Mamelodi Sundowns defender who himself was discovered from Gunners, a club founded in 1967.

“I was one of the first two players to come from Gunners and make it to the professional level along Victor Thwala, who graduated to Pirates when I signed for Wits.”

Thirteen years since their ­revival the Gunners have ­become an empire, with five youth teams – the Under 9, -11, -13, -15 and -17 – and two senior teams that are affiliated to the Soweto Local Football Association and the Castle League.

Ntombela started as the coach and is currently the ­club’s? director.

While Serero remains the club’s most famous product, Ntombela credits former Ajax youth coaches Cavin Johnson and Innocent Mayoyo who each honed Serero’s skills when the player first arrived at Ikamva, the Urban Warriors’ base, eight years ago.

“Credit should go to the coaches because they are the ones who work with these youngsters on a daily basis,” said Ntombela.

In accordance with the Fifa regulation on compensation payments, Gunners are entitled to a cut from Serero’s reported R20 million move to Amsterdam.

Compensation is paid to clubs that have trained the player from the age of 12 to 21, when the player’s status changes from amateur to professional.

In the event of any subsequent transfers compensation is only paid to the previous club, according to the Fifa rule.

But Ntombela said: “As much as amateur clubs need ­financial means to survive, Gunners want their players to play first team football first.

“We have an agreement with professional clubs that our players are free when they start. I will be meeting Ajax (Cape Town) in a few weeks’ time to engage on ­Serero’s move,” he said.

» The Moroka Swallows development side will play a friendly game against PJ Stars at Simon Gondwe Sports Complex in Delmas on June 12.

The purpose of the match is to scout for talent.

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