It’ s a deal

Alex’s may just be the pioneering cure for the misfiring national soccer team if the township’s current pupils live up to the country and Spain’s football federation’s great expectation.

This was the theme recently at Three Square sports grounds when hundreds of pupils attended the launch of #PassTheBall Grassroots programme campaign by the federations’ gurus, Danny Jordan of Safa and Antonio Barradas, Africa Director of Spain’s LaLiga. Gracing the moment were officials from the Spanish Embassy; Bacelona’s still reigning top goal scorer and programme ambassador, Patrick Kluivert; LaLiga coaches here to impart the world’s best Tiki-Taka football tactics; and Safa’s Uruguay bound, World Cup Soccer competition’s U17 Bantwana team coach, Simphiwe Dludlu. Alex Northrand Local Football Association (ANLFA) chairperson Maisha Molepo, officials and coaches also basked in the glory of the moment.

Antonio Barradas launches the #PassTheBall programme campaign. Photo: Leseho Manala

Barradas who nurtured his love for football from infancy and desire to share its worth said it all started when without means to acquire a ball, a man randomly gave him one which he cherished. “From then, I vowed to also give balls to others in need.”

South Africa, he said, was a natural choice for the programme launch which dished out 1 000 balls to pupils, in partnership with the world’s best footballing nation. “Unlike Sandton kids, Alex kids will treasurer and nurture their talent with the balls. Besides, there is already an existing partnership between LaLiga, Safa and SuperSport. The country has excellent world-class facilities and equipment.

Schoolchildren with one of 1 000 soccer balls dished out. Photo: Leseho Manala

“Its immense talent only needs correct exposure to the best tactics and techniques from a young age and schools are the most appropriate and organised launching pads.”

He urged local club and school coaches who will participate in a training of trainers course to make children grasp and sustain the tactics and excel to be future national prospects and for LaLiga teams.

Jordan cautioned pupils not to forsake their studies. “The programme twins excellence in education and soccer and Safa may insist on matric level education when scouting for national team prospects.”

Mxolisi Mngomezulu of ANLFA, Simphiwe Dludlu, national U17 ladies’ coach and #PassTheBall programme ambassador, Patrick Kluivert. Photo: Leseho Manala

This seemingly said in reference to discipline, intelligence and other values expected to transcend from education to the sport. He challenged pupils to occasionally pit their team-skills at matches with age-appropriate national teams.

Kluivert lauded the programme as close to his heart. ” When the opportunity is availed and nurtured in local talent from a young age like it did to me, it launches careers for kids who later played in some great teams in the world. Nothing is impossible with discipline and sustained commitment.”

ANLFA’s Maisha Molepo sees Alex’s greater chance to produce more of national soccer stars. “Most local coaches are unemployed and will remain dedicated to unearthing and developing this national asset if they are also supported.”

Schoolchildren with one of 1 000 soccer balls dished out. Photo: Leseho Manala

The 160 coaches and 40 teachers will be trained for three days. Dludlu, who was born in Alex, urged the local coaches to never be shy. “Ask questions, accept positive criticism which builds, develops positive attitudes and provides solutions for the benefit of Kasi football. In the long run, dreams will turn into reality when many sportsmen and women better than us emerge from the programme.”

She advised the coaches to also balance the sport with children and parents’ concern about education. In addition to the balls, pupils also received LaLiga branded caps and T-shirts.

The programme’s next destination is Stellenbosch on 2 March 2018 and other disadvantaged and rural areas. Jordan hopes it also extends to other countries.

Details. Alexandra Northrand Local Football Association 011 882 0077.

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