To Brazil to play futebol

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Uitenhage is brimming with soccer talent, says Thandolwethu Mbhebhetho, 14, a recruit of Shona Khona, the education-through-sport venture.

Together with Bongani Mocksin, 13, and Siyabonga Solomon, Mbhebhetho spent an eventful weekend of soccer coaching and life skills training. They were coached by the likes of Marks "Go man Go" Maponyane, Dan "Dance" Malesela, James "Akulalalwa" Mabhena and Bernard "Shoes" Lushozi in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, in December.

In May Mbhebhetho, Mocksin and four others will be joined by six other youngsters for the Brazil trip in July.

Mbhebhetho went to a Metcash Store, bought a specially-marked Reckitt Benckiser product and sent his details to the organisers via SMS.

Soon afterwards, Mbhebhetho, Mocksin and Solomon were chosen for a pre-selection coaching and life skills camp in Port Elizabeth.

Mbhebhetho said: "I found myself among more than 70 other hopefuls at the Safa Soccer School of Excellence.

"Our teachers, friends and parents are overjoyed at our achievement, especially because we are doing well despite coming from a poverty-stricken environment."

To Shona Khona, Reckitt Benckiser and Metcash, the nation-building partners of Sowetan and SABC, Mbhebhetho said: "Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime. Going to Brazil's famous Sao Paulo Futebol Academy of the Sao Paulo Football Club makes me feel like a soccer superstar.

"Being given such an opportunity makes it easy to work hard. I will be on a plane for the first time and hopefully I will get a chance to meet my idols Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. I promise to do my best in Sao Paulo. Maybe one day I will represent South Africa," Mbhebhetho said

Others selected: Dominic Mfusi, 13, from Krugersdorp, Moalusi Mathe, 16, from Thabanchu, Jerry Nkwana, 15, from Mamelodi and Mzwandile Magqwaka, 13, from Gugulethu.

l For more information, call 0861-100-980.