The Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy hosted its closing tournament from 19 to 21 September in Swaneville (Kagiso) – and celebrating a host of success stories from the players who have been part of the programme, some since its inception in 2010.Vusi Dlamini, Group HR Director for Tsogo Sun, comments, “Our corporate social investment objectives are in line with the departments of Education and Sport & Recreation’s vision to promote healthy living and a life-long participation in sport. Added to this, we use sport as a medium to deliver life skills, leadership, and healthcare training, while also reinforcing the importance of education to young learners.”The Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy currently operates in 35 primary and high schools in the Kagiso area on the West Rand, working with 40 teachers and more than 885 learners and local businesses as service providers. “We are incredibly proud of the real-life experiences of some of the players how they have benefited from being part of the programme and the vision they have for their future,” says Shanda Paine, Group CSI Manager for Tsogo Sun.
Gift Mokguo, who manages the soccer academy for Tsogo Sun, is also local community member and has been with the programme since inception. Mokguo notes the impressive impact it’s had on youngsters’ lives over the years – how they have developed self-respect and respect for others, how they have learned to listen, and how their soccer skills have been honed to the point where a number of the players have been scouted by development programmes for premier teams, including Bidvest and ABC Motsepe League teams. “I am so proud,” states Mokguo. “In this community there was very little opportunity to play soccer in teams as there is very limited funding. The Tsogo Sun Soccer Academy has brought a new level of soccer to the area as well as gained the attention of scouts that never came to the West Rand for talent.”Grade 12 learner Goitseone Pits (19) started with the Soccer Academy in 2010 and believes that without it, he would likely be in jail. “The soccer team took me off the streets and away from criminal activities that some friends were involved in. Here I learned self-discipline, to behave when I am around people and how to show respect.” Pits is looking forward to studying next year – possibly social work – and a productive and positive future.Player Prince Moeketsi is only 14 and started with the Academy in 2011 and maintains it has offered far more than expected. “They have inspired me and taught me that I need to go to school – and not think only about soccer. Going to school will give me a bright future.”Tebogo Mpanyase, 14, attends WD Oliphant Primary School – started with the academy in 2010 at age 13 – agrees. “The Academy takes care of us. They respect us and we respect them too; they encourage us not to focus on football only.” His plans for the future include listening to his parents, focusing on school, and not being distracted by alcohol and smoking – and then one day hopefully studying medicine.
Twanano Ndobe, now age 19 at SG Mafaese Secondary School, has also been part of the academy since 2010, and has shown the commitment necessary to help him shine as a soccer player. Ndobe says he did have a problem with discipline, but when he was appointed captain of his team, he had to make serious changes in his life and be the role model and the leader that the position demanded from him. Ndobe hopes that soccer will play a role in his future life, but in the meantime, he plans to study law when he finishes school.Tshepang Mothoagae, who joined the Academy in 2010 at age 12, says he too has learnt a lot more than soccer. “I learnt to respect – my coaches, my team, and other players from other teams. They also taught us life skills, where we learnt things like using electricity correctly, how to manage money, and how to be a better person. I want to say thank you to Tsogo Sun.”Paine notes that research on the symbiotic relationship between sport and the balanced development of youngsters shows that sport-based programmes have been shown to improve the learning performance of learners, encouraging school attendance and a desire to succeed academically.