Finding future World Cup stars

2018-06-26 06:01
Young players after winning the tournament in Philippi where the new Football Magic programme was launched.

Young players after winning the tournament in Philippi where the new Football Magic programme was launched.

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Former Bafana Bafana star George Dearnaley has partnered with a local community-based organisation to help develop young talent for future Soccer World Cup tournaments.

Dearnaley, now coach of top club Magic FC, has joined forces with Play Sport4Life (PS4L), a non-profit organisation operating in the Kensington, Factreton and Maitland areas.

The two organisations launched the Football Magic programme last week with a well-attended Kwanzaa Youth Day Football Festival at Philippi’s Marcus Garvey Community Park.

The knockout event attracted children from the 29 schools in the area and featured eight teams in both the u.9 and u.12 divisions­.

Dearnaley and Play Sport4Life’s chief executive, Miles October, say part of the motivation in launching the Football Magic programme is addressing the disappointment that Bafana Bafana is not playing on football’s biggest stage in Russia at the moment.

“It’s a travesty that we, as a football-mad country, are not competing with the best in the world,” October says, adding that millions of children around the country are glued to TV sets cheering for other teams.

“George and I have come to the realisation that we have to be part of the solution and help to right this wrong. Our strategy is to start with the kids, to set the building blocks in place to have, if not at the next World Cup, then the one thereafter, a talent pool that is equipped to be competitive on the world stage. We all have a role to play in this ... the administrators, the players, the football fans, corporate support from business and, of course, government. It annoys the hell out of me knowing every weekend millions of football lovers are worried about the fortunes of Man United or Liverpool and Real Madrid but have little interest in how Magic FC or Santos is doing.”

Dearnaley says Magic FC was thrilled at the prospect of the Football Magic programme partnering with PlaySport4Life. “We believe that football, as the most popular sport in the world, has the power to unite people and to be a platform in teaching so many life skills to kids,” he says.

“Our track record in helping to develop local kids as well as providing opportunities for education and employment is something we are very proud of. PlaySport4Life is the ideal partner, with its vast experience in coaching and education programmes and its passion for making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged kids. Our network of former professional footballers, combined with our 25 years’ experience in the business of local football, gives us a huge advantage when it comes to making things happen on a football field.”

Dearnaley says the Football Magic programme would have a network of big-name players to draw on to implement their strategy of developing young talent. It includes the likes of Brian Baloyi, Fabian McCarthy, Helman Mkhalele, David Nyathi, Thabo Mngomeni, Jabulani Mendu, David Kannemeyer and Matthew Booth.

In coming weeks, clubs and schools will be contacted an invited m to be part of the Football Magic programmem. “With luck they will find exceptional raw talent and mould it into the next Benni McCarthy or Quinton Fortune,” PS4L says in a statement.

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