Tears of joy marked the occasion at Nedbank’s headquarters on Thursday (10/08) as 18 young players from across the country realised their dreams of playing professional football. The players were identified through the annual campaign which unearths footballing talent and gives them an entry into the 16 Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that saw each of the Nedbank Ke Yona Team players draw a name of a PSL team where they will undergo a month-long assessment, with the hope of securing a much sought-after professional contract. Those who are successful in the trials will follow in the footsteps of over 20 players who have carved out promising careers at a number of PSL and National First Division (NFD) clubs. The likes of Maphosa Modiba (SuperSport United), Thamsanqa Gwabeni (Platinum Stars), Luthando Sixhaso (Kaizer Chiefs), Ian Chikowa and Kyle Davies (both University of Pretoria) are a testament to Nedbank’s brand essence of being money experts who do good.Due to the ups and downs on the journey to stardom, Nedbank therefore wanted to ensure that the hopefuls receive the necessary support off the field as professional football also has its challenges. That became the reason why the Ring of Steel element was introduced for the Ke Yona trialists. This is a support structure that encompasses financial training, mentorship by a legend, personal grooming, wellness, as well as tips and advice from a leading football agent.Speaking after the team announcement and PSL draft, Nedbank sponsorship manager for Football Properties, Tutu Skosana, said football is a lot like managing your finances. “You must have a goal, be committed, work hard to attain it and find the right team to enable you to realise that goal,” he said. “Congratulations to the 18 future stars who have made it into the team and good luck in showcasing your skills and football flair to the PSL clubs”.The event was a culmination of months of talent scouting which saw the experienced quartet of Shakes Mashaba, Khabo Zondo, Owen da Gama and Mike Mangena meeting over 13 000 soccer hopefuls. They were put through rigorous training and bootcamps to create a formidable team that will take on the 2017 Nedbank Cup Champions, while demonstrating that anyone can be extraordinary when they partner with Nedbank. The Ke Yona Challenge between the Nedbank Ke Yona team and SuperSport United is scheduled for Sunday, 3 September. The venue and ticket information will be communicated in due course. For more information, follow the Ke Yona team TV series every Sunday on SABC 1 at 17:30. Alternatively, download the Nedbank Ke Yona App. You can also join the conversation on social media via Twitter (@Nedbanksport), Facebook (Nedbank Sport) and Instagram (@Nedbank).