Sacred Heart College, a well-known academic powerhouse in Johannesburg, now wants to harness its educational prowess in the development of football talent in the neglected inner-city areas of the City of Gold.
As one of the oldest schools in Johannesburg, Sacred Heart plans to establish an elite football academy for both boys and girls in the
divisions of U9, U11, U13, U15 and U17, with prospects to increase the intake to include the U19s as well.
Trials for boys were held on 3 March at the school and those for the girls will be held on 10 March at the same school venue and interested young girls in the inner-city areas of the Johannesburg CBD, Berea, Hillbrow, Yeoville, Bellevue, Observatory, Bertrams, Doornfontein, Lorentzville, Kensington and other areas are urged to take advantage of the offering.
Speaking at the trial sessions, Sacred Heart College Primary School’s head of the department for sports, Andre van der Merwe said the academy, known as the Sacred Heart Soccer Academy, is currently involved in negotiations with one of the giants of premiership football with a view to bringing the club on board.
“Bringing on board one of the top flight clubs will add immense value and magnitude to the establishment of the academy and most probably guarantee its future success as well, as the academy will be guaranteed a line of progression for some of its most promising intakes,” Van der Merwe said.
He added that high-level talks were currently underway with the club and he would not want to pre-empt those discussions by naming the club. “Once the deal has been signed, sealed and delivered, we shall then be in a position to announce the name.”
The academy will operate under the auspices of the Rand Central Local Football Association and its leagues, while also, perhaps, participating in the Academy League, which is run by the South African Football Association.
Van der Merwe said part of the reasons behind the roping in of an elite professional club was to attract sponsors for the academy as most of the potential players are from disadvantaged communities who cannot afford the fees charged for intake into such an institution.
“Sacred Heart College is willing to allow the free use of its sporting facilities for the academy, including the use of sporting equipment, our buses to transport the children and our coaches, but we need help to ensure the success of the project.”
He said they were looking at a squad of 20 players per division and some of the most promising players in the various divisions will be offered sporting bursaries at the college to further the educational side of their soccer ambitions and career.
“Our aim is not only to produce highly skilled soccer stars but to develop all-around players, as sports-based programmes have been widely recognised as an effective tool for empowering young people, increasing their knowledge, promoting effective communication, negotiation skills and improving self-efficacy and leadership,” he said.
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