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Girl teen's life-changing football experience

By unknown | Mar 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

If all goes well, Miriam Miller will one day feature prominently when Banyana Banyana take the field against foreign opponents, finally realising a long-held ambition.

Miriam, as you might have guessed, was one of the recruits of Shona Khona, the education through sport initiative of Reckitt Benckiser and Metcash in association with media sponsors and partners Sowetan and the SABC.

In December 2005 Miriam was among 90 school pupils from all over South Africa who converged on the South African Football Association and Transnet Soccer School of Excellence at Elandsfontein in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, for specialised soccer coaching and life-skills development.

At these sessions the best candidates are selected for further nurturing at the famous Sao Paulo Football Academy of the Sao Paulo Football Club in Brazil.

After having impressed soccer coaches, including former professionals Marks Maponyane and Dan Malesela, Miriam became one of the 12 lucky aspirant soccer stars who spent a life-changing two weeks in Brazil last year.

Miriam is proud that Shona Khona gave her R10000 and a personal computer to give to a charity or community development group of her choice.

"I chose the Alexander Friends For Life, which is an HIV-Aids hospice, and the place will forever stay close to my heart," Miriam said this week.

Miriam enjoyed her nine-hour, first ever flight to Sao Paulo, and still cherishes each moment spent learning soccer and taking in the sights of Brazil.

Besides bungee jumping for the first time, Miriam also learnt a variety of new and advanced forms of soccer coaching, training, team-building and team-work, as well as fun-filled, yet physically taxing, beach soccer "on the beautiful Guaruja beach, Sao Paulo's most popular beach resort".

Shona Khona - which involves thousands of hopefuls sending their names and other details to the organisers after obtaining lucky entry numbers found on specially-marked Reckitt Benckiser products obtained from Metcash and Metcash- friendly retail stores - is an important youth development exercise for youths aged between 10 and 16.

"It [Shona Khona] has changed my life completely," Miriam said. "Though I was homesick occasionally . I still long to return to Brazil."


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