Limpopo lad inspired by Ronaldinho

BRAZIL ROUND: Clifford Maserumule. © Sowetan.
BRAZIL ROUND: Clifford Maserumule. © Sowetan.

Sixteen-year-old Clifford Maserumule from Limpopo will travel to Brazil this month for a week of soccer training. He will be accompanied by 11 other talented youngsters under the auspices of Shona Khona.

Sixteen-year-old Clifford Maserumule from Limpopo will travel to Brazil this month for a week of soccer training. He will be accompanied by 11 other talented youngsters under the auspices of Shona Khona.

Shona Khona is the education- through-sport initiative established by Reckitt Benckiser two years ago. Its aim is to expose children from underdeveloped communities to a world of greater possibilities.

Reckitt Benckiser's partners include Metcash, Sowetan and the SABC.

Maserumule lives in a township in Polokwane with his parents and five siblings.

To enter Shona Khona, his older brother bought Dettol soap. Maserumule SMSed the lucky digits on the package to a central hotline number and was selected in a random process to attend a weekend camp at the Safa Transnet Sports School of Excellence.

"I was very excited when my brother told me that I was going to Johannesburg for the Shona Khona trials. My entire family was overjoyed," said Maserumule.

From 180 kids that go to two separate camps, twelve of the most talented are chosen to go to the Sao Paulo Futebol Academy in Brazil.

There, they spend a week training hard to impress the Brazilian coaches.

Off the training field, the twelve children also get a chance to experience Brazilian culture.

"To the twelve kids, going to Brazil is an experience of a lifetime. Who knows what might happen next," said Stan Whiting, Shona Khona Project Coordinator.

When he arrived at the School of Excellence, Maserumule said he was very nervous.

"I didn't know anyone there and when I realised how many people I was competing against, I started to doubt myself. But I regained my confidence during the Sunday training session," Maserumule said.

When the six children were selected to go to Brazil, Maserumule's name was announced third and unlike the other children at the camp, he had his family with him at the prize-giving ceremony.

"We travelled all the way from Polokwane just to see Clifford play, and to our surprise he was also selected to go to Brazil," said older brother Trevor.

Maserumule is currently playing for his school team at Makgoka High School. The lad said that he is inspired by Brazilian player Ronaldinho, whom he hopes to meet while they are in Sao Paulo.

Shona Khona has in the past sent twelve boys and girls to Brazil for a week of soccer training. Two from the group were invited back for further trials. Five boys were accepted and they enrolled at the Safa Transnet Sport School of Excellence.

One other boy is now playing for the Silver Stars Castle League Team.

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