Chance for aspirant soccer stars

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Sowetan has joined Reckitt Benckiser and Metcash in a unique sports development initiative known as Shona Khona.

The aim of the initiative is to boost the aspirations of South Africa's future soccer stars.

Shona Khona, which Sowetan has joined as media sponsor and to further the aims and objectives of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation, seeks to provide schoolchildren with life-changing experiences and opportunities and to create young role models out of these children.

A total of 180 candidates - in two groups of 90 from all over South Africa - was selected from thousands who entered a special SMS or post competition found on specially marked Reckitt Benckiser products in Metcash shops countrywide.

The aspirant soccer stars attend two separate, but similar, Shona Khona soccer and life-skills camps at the School of Excellence in Ekurhuleni.

The facilitators at the school are legendary soccer players, such as Marks "Go-Man-Go" Maponyane.

In the run up to the Soccer World Cup in 2010, to be hosted by South Africa in a major first for Africa, the South African Football Association-endorsed Shona Khona is set to prove itself a fitting tool to promote and market soccer as a sport that touches the hearts and imaginations of both adults and children across the country and the continent.

All candidates are given a chance to prove themselves, and from the final 180, 12 lucky lads will receive the opportunity of a lifetime: a visit to the famous Sao Paulo Football Club's coaching academy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in February .

The six players who were selected in April and visited Sao Paulo in July are Tshepo Theane and Thabisio Mphakanyane of Free State, Tumiso Morerwra, Tyroane Sandows and Kwanele Msibi of Gauteng and Wendy Xeketwane of Western Cape.

Twelve Brazil-bound future stars will be announced in Johannesburg in two weeks' time.