BENEFITING YOUTH

The Western Cape provincial government has embarked on an ambitious development programme, which is spearheaded by soccer greats such as Thabo Mngomeni and Reggie Jantjies.

The Western Cape provincial government has embarked on an ambitious development programme, which is spearheaded by soccer greats such as Thabo Mngomeni and Reggie Jantjies.

White Jacobs, MEC for sports and culture, said the aim of the Football Development Project was to also encourage mass participation in the sport.

Jacobs said they were also seeing the 2010 World Cup as a vehicle to keep the youth away from crime and drugs.

"We are using football to give our children a better future, that is why we have roped in legends to drive the process," he said.

"There is an allowance that we pay our legends when we have asked them to perform duties for us, you will understand that some of them are unemployed.

"Our soccer greats conduct coaching clinics at schools and open grounds. They also do motivational talks for the communities, with the emphasis on the youth."

He said he was surprised that some local youth were not aware that Mngomeni was from a Cape Town township.

"They thought he was from somewhere else, maybe because he played soccer in the Eastern Cape [Bush Bucks] and Gauteng [Orlando Pirates]," said Jacobs.

Jantjies, on the other hand, was one of the greatest ball distributors in the 1980s where he played for the now defunct Hellenic and Jomo Cosmos.

Other prominent soccer personalities involved in the project include former Banyana Banyana captain Desiree Ellis, Duncan Crowie, Achmat Salie, Portia Mtokwane, Winnie Qhuma, Xolile Kombela, Mara Sefalane, Roger Links and Simpiwe Oliphant.

Mngomeni said he felt honoured for being roped into the Football Development Project.

"There is talent galore in the Western Cape. The project that has been started by Jacobs to develop soccer is something we should all support," he said.

"It's a nation-building project that should be introduced in all the provinces; it is not only about 2010 but also for the future."

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