Showing our youth the way

Thandukwazi Gcabashe

Thandukwazi Gcabashe

Education through sport programme Shona Khona is alive and kicking.

Shona Khona, managed by retired professional soccer player Stan Whiting, is designed to empower pupils from poor communities by providing them with opportunities and life skills, equipping them to become their communities' exemplary icons.

This brainchild of Reckitt Benckiser South Africa's former general manager Roberto Funari, started as a partnership of Metro Cash & Carry and was later joined by Sowetan, then the SABC, who were followed by Mamelodi Sundowns, Manchester United sponsors AIG and Forward Zone.

Since 2005, Shona Khona has touched the lives of 180 children and of these 24 visited Brazil's famous club, Sao Paulo FC for intensive soccer coaching and life skills development sessions.

One of these lucky fellows, Johannesburg's Tyroane Sandows, is currently enrolled at Sao Paulo FC's highly-respected soccer academy, with a potential to break into the senior soccer trainees squad in a year or two.

Late last year, Shona Khona positively affected the lives of 400 boys and girls aged between 10 and 16.

This time around, the lucky six recruits visited Manchester United's home turf, Old Trafford, also for exhaustive soccer coaching and life skills training.

Most of the other recruits have been invited to become part of emerging and established soccer training schools, including the Transnet Sports School of Excellence, which is currently hosting Shona Khona finds including Bongani Mocksin, Kwanele Nkosi, Tumisho Morerwa, Jerry Nkwane and Godfrey Molemela.

Another Shona Khona spark, Sifiso Mnguni, is in the youth squad of Absa Premier League club, Platinum Stars.

From this year, Shona Khona, the youth development soccer programme, will fly under the new banner of Dettol Shona Khona.

Now in its fourth year, the programme is gearing up to reach more children than ever before thanks to the sponsorship of the Dettol brand.

Shona Khona will now be spearheaded by Dettol and Reckitt Benckiser.

BidVest Wits University Football Club has come on board to oversee the technical aspects of the programme.

Sowetan continues to be the proud media partner.

A thousand schools from rural and under-developed communities across the country will be selected to participate in the programme.

The Dettol Shona Khona legends will visit the winning schools to run soccer and life skills camps. - Additional reporting by Victor Mecoamere