by Staff Reporter on 11/10/12 at 7:22 am
The closing tournament of the Tsogo Sun Suncares Sports Academy soccer development programme, hosted by Silverstar Casino, was held last month at Lusaka Sports Complex in Swaneville, Mogale City.
The Tsogo Sun Suncares Sports Academy utilises soccer as an extra-curricular activity for primary and secondary schools in line with government’s aim to bring back afternoon sports to schools. This soccer programme is also used as a medium to deliver life and leadership skills as well as health education to young learners in this community.
Now in its third year, this full year development programme kicked off its current season in March with an opening tournament and consists of weekly training sessions, six months of inter-school league fixtures that culminate at the season’s closing tournament in September, as well as a development academy where talented players are invited to be a part of and then selected as a team to participate in the SAFA Rand Central leagues.
“Our development programme consists of a comprehensive schedule and we approach the full school calendar year as an opportunity for development, starting with the opening tournament,” says Shanda Paine, group CSI manager for Tsogo Sun.
The programme currently includes 23 primary schools and 12 secondary schools to form a total of 58 teams in the under 12, 14 and 16 age groups from the Munsieville, Kagiso and Swaneville communities of Mogale City.
Friday, 7 September will see the under 12 players compete and on Saturday, 8 September the under 14 and under 16 players will battle it out for top honours.
The top 30 players of each age group in U12, U14 and U16 participate in team trials from September to November and in November the top 18 players are announced. The top 18 players from each age group form the acclaimed development academy that produces U13, U15 and U17 teams to compete in the SAFA Rand Central leagues in 2013.
Over the past two years the development academy has gained a reputation as a professional and well-organised academy that imparts life skills such as discipline, time management, responsibility and respect to the young learners and encourages healthy living, nutrition and fitness.
“Our development academy produces results and serves as a platform for players to become the best that they can be. It provides them with the tools and foundation to become not only skilled sportsmen, but well-rounded individuals,” says Shane Collinson, director of operations and complex general manager for Silverstar Casino.
The soccer development programme also empowers the community as services are sourced directly from the area to make the programme a success. “We make use of local SAFA accredited referees based in Mogale City, the local taxi association from Swaneville transports children to matches and a caterer based in Munsieville provides breakfast and lunch at tournaments, and in this manner we are trying to play our part in the economic development of the local community,” says Paine.
On the days of the tournament, each team will have their team photo taken, thanks to a dedicated photo booth that is set up at the closing tournament. “The photo booth is a huge attraction and very popular with the players. Their team photo is a proud memento of the day along with the medals they receive for participating,” says Paine.
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