Tyroane is marked for stardom

Sthembiso Zikalala

Sthembiso Zikalala

Eleven-year-old Gauteng footballer Tyroane Sandows, who is tipped for soccer stardom, has returned to a top Brazilian training academy for another year.

Sandows, from Mulbarton south of Johannesburg, is looking forward to spending more time in the country he now refers to as "home".

Sandows was invited back to the Sao Paulo Futebol Academy for a one-year development programme through Shona Khona, an education-through-sport initiative of Reckitt Benckiser and Metcash in partnership with Sowetan and the SABC.

Sandows is very enthusiastic about Brazil and has adapted well to the culture. The youngster says the development programme has given him a new perspective on life.

At such a young age, Sandows is already comfortable with being far from home. He lives with a host family.

He is fascinated by the training methods used in Brazil compared with the ones in South Africa.

"The different size balls used have always fascinated and interested me because I learnt that it teaches you balance.

"In Brazil they also focus on a lot of things we regard as not important, like the type of food a player eats and the time he has to be in bed at night," says Sandows.

But there are also similarities between training here and in Brazil, he says.

He remembers a training exercise where each player was allocated a partner to hold hands with and run in the same direction. This is done throughout the entire drill.

"This was done to emphasise the importance of playing as a team," Sandows says.

"As a player, you often forget about your teammates and this is selfish.

"So this exercise reminds players that there are 11 of us on the field," Sandows says.

The smart and talented youngster is currently in grade 6 at St Nicholas School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Though his classes are in English, Sandows is also learning Portuguese from his new friends at the academy.

l For more information call the Shona Khona hotline on 0861-100-980.