Youth project finds soccer talent aplenty

Thandukwazi Gcabashe

Thandukwazi Gcabashe

Shona Khona is the youth soccer development programme started by Reckitt Benckiser and Metro Cash & Carry three years ago.

This initiative was started with the objective of providing youngsters with opportunities and identifying future stars. If its successes are anything to go by, then South Africa will have players to answer the call to "shona khona" in tournaments beyond 2010.

Its other partners are Premier Soccer League side Mamelodi Sundowns, AIG - sponsors of Manchester United - leading sports management agency ForwardZone, Imperial Motors and Sowetan.

Youngsters aged between 10 and 16 enter by following instructions on specially marked household products made by Reckitt Benckiser, then they participate by sending - via SMS - the lucky numbers found on the packaging.

Lucky youngsters whose numbers are drawn are allocated to a training camp closest to their city or town. Regional camps are held at 20 different locations across the country, incorporating all nine provinces.

At each camp the most talented youngster or youngsters are selected by the South African Football Association-accredited coaches and soccer legends to attend a national Shona Khona weekend soccer and life-skills camp to be held in Gauteng in July.

Sundowns and Manchester United Soccer Schools Coaches will be attending this special weekend camp and a handful of the most talented children will be selected to travel to Old Trafford, home of United, in England, for a week of training.