Thursday, November 28, 2013

Players arriving in Pretoria for the Mamelodi Sundowns camp

Twenty two of the most talented under-19 soccer players in the country will gather in Pretoria on Friday where they will attend a week-long training camp at Mamelodi Sundowns. They were selected as those with the most potential at the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup national finals in Durban in August and will now be given the opportunity to develop further.

They will receive training from top development coaches, and get individual attention as well. They will play three games, one of them against the Mamelodi Sundowns first team, and will attend a PSL match.
Mamelodi Sundowns have invited coaches and talent scouts from the first division and PSL clubs to come through and see the players in action.

Mamelodi Sundown’s youth development manager, Shawn Bishop, said there were so many talented players at the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup national finals they felt it important to give them an opportunity to develop further. “Hopefully some of the clubs will then take them that step further,” he said.

One of the invited players is Ofentse Motlhanke, the 19 year-old goalkeeper from Bloemfontein’s HTS Louis Botha, who was named the goalkeeper of the tournament at the national finals. “I think this is a great opportunity for my soccer career, I will be exposed to the best coaching staff,” he said. “I have never attended a camp before, so I don’t really know what happens but I think that I will be taught the technical skills of goalkeeping, and see how other goalkeepers handle the goal posts. I hope that after the camp my goalkeeping skills and mental game will have improved. Being a ’keeper, you need to pre-empt a player’s action, a skill I hope to learn from Sundowns.

Ofentse said that while he didn’t expect to be selected for the camp, it has always been his goal to play at a higher level. “Hopefully this opportunity will take my soccer to much greater heights. Like playing for a PSL or first division team,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Kennedy Mweene, the Sundowns goalkeeper, is his favourite Sundowns player. “He was goalkeeper of the season in 2009, and I hope to meet him and pick his brain a little about the position that we play,” he said. “I would like to ask him how he prepares himself before a match and how he keeps his composure during the game.”

Ofentse will be joined at the camp by his team mate Tani Mpusana, who is 17 years-old and a defender.  Tani says he is very proud to have been selected to attend the camp. “I am filled with a lot of emotions, I can’t really explain it in detail,” he said. “It really means a lot to me and I will try to learn as much as possible.”

Tani’s father Simon Mpusana, who has never played the game before, is more pleased than he is, he says, because he has been the one to encourage him to continue with the sport. “Hopefully when I come back I will have good news for him, like maybe being selected to attend trails for Sundowns.”

At the camp, Tani is hoping to learn about the basics of understanding how to defend and to attack. “I want to learn how to effectively communicate with my team mates, as that’s a problem when it comes to team work. I have noticed that many teams don’t play as a team, they want to shine individually and end up messing up the entire game for everyone.”

Tani was surprised, and happy to be selected to attend the camp. “I never thought I would make it because my performance was not 100%, but now that I know that I made it, I want to work hard at the camp and listen to all the advice that I will get from the coaching staff,” he said.

“I know that all the players will be going all out to be noticed, so I have been training hard and working at improving my strength,” he said. “I train 4 times a week and I play in local games to improve my performance.”

He is looking forward to meeting the Sundowns first team players and said it would be an honour to speak to them one on one. “ I see them on TV all the time and meeting them will encourage me to do better in my soccer career. I look up to all successful soccer players.”

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