The Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation in Mpumalanga has embarked on a football development journey across the province. The first stop was at the Sasol Recreational Club in Secunda.
40 amateur teams from Govan Mbeki municipality in Gert Sibande District, received sports equipment that will assist them with football development in the region.
Secunda, a small town built around oil refinery coal fields in Mpumalanga. A few kilometres from the town lies the Embalenhle township. This is where Sasol Juventus, a football club that caters to boys’ and girls’ development, is based.
From the dusty streets, the boys managed to win the league in their under-17s category in 2018. The following year, the girls won the Absa League and were promoted to the Sasol League.
Meanwhile, the senior ladies’ team just missed out in its efforts to qualify for the Hollywoodbets League. But the team’s manager is pleased with the progress.
Sasol Juventus FC Manager, Elsie Modise says, “Last season, the girls won the Sasol league as well, only to lose in the playoffs. The junior team took the Absa league and three players were selected to represent Mpumalanga in Cape Town.”
Govan Mbeki LFA’s Bafana Sibeko says, “As a local football association, we say thank you to our teams for the effort to develop talent, hence we have managed to have three ladies players from Juventus selected to represent us in Cape Town.”
SAFA’s chief operations officer, Lydia Monyepao, is a former Banyana Banyana star. She knows, firsthand, what it’s like to lack support while giving your all on the field. Hence she is making a call for more companies to assist in nurturing talent.
“We need to make ensure that the high-performance teams have quality players but where do they come from, they have to come from our various regions and that is where projects like this are very crucial. It’s about powering local clubs with much-needed resources. Sasol has been caring for women’s football alone since 2009, but they can not do it alone. We look to grow women’s football but we can’t do that without the corporate being involved.”
Developing talent with proper facilities also goes a long way in discovering talent.
Culture, Sports, and Recreation MEC Thandi Shongwe says, “It’s about sports development, taking children off the streets and social ills. Hence we are partnering with the corporate so that we could reach even the most rural areas. We want to go to the underprivileged communities where children are playing without soccer boots, without a ball and a proper ground because the department has limited resources.”
Sasol Corporate & Community Affairs Mashudu Ndou says, “As part of the youth month, we thought we should celebrate them by sports development because we believe that if we contribute and create an impact on sports development, we are able to create a better youth as part of social cohesion. The 40 sporting equipment to 40 grassroots teams will help SAFA programmes.”
It is hoped that the sporting equipment will go a long way in encouraging many more youngsters to take up sport.