The newly-established Shakes Kungwane Alex Football Academy has taken off at great speed following its invitation to participate in the preliminary stages of the 2014 Engen Knockout Challenge.
This stage of the competition was to decide whether the Alex academy will finally take part in the Engen U17 tournament scheduled for July on a date still to be announced. The academy is barely two months old and was renamed after the late Alex football star turned match analyst for SuperSport, Kungwane.
‘Kasi Flava’, as Kungwane was known for his hard-hitting township-flavoured interpretation of the game, died of diabetes complications on 28 May.
The Alex academy which came second in the preliminaries of the challenge and failed to qualify, was renamed after Kungwane as an honour for his contributions to Alex football in particular and the country as a whole. He started his career at Alexandra’s Blackpool Football Club and will mostly be remembered for his passing and dribbling acumen as a Kaizer Chiefs player.
Technical director of Alex football, Mxolisi Mngomezulu said the establishment of the academy was necessitated by a need to take Alex football to another level through a rigorous development process and talent identification.
“We want to lift Alex football to a much higher level and we hope this academy will help take us there,” he said. “The goal is to produce players of a high calibre for our own local ranks and those outside our own backyard, with a vision to ultimately have an Alex team in the lucrative Premier Soccer League.”
The academy is also expected to play the role of a feeder to this team and other interested clubs by selling the nurtured talent. This academy can also become a money spinner for the cash-strapped Alexandra Northrand Local Football Association.
“We have seen a number of individuals and teams setting up academies right under our nostrils, to sniff-out and lure the talent in the local teams and from our township without any benefits accruing to the teams or the association.
“Team owners have invested their meagre private earnings into the development of these children who are then freely snapped up by other academies at no benefit to us at all. We want to nip this in the bud and ensure we protect the investments of the association and the local clubs,” Mngomezulu added.