Percy Tau celebrates winning the Absa Premiership 2017/18 Season© Samuel Shivambu - BackpagePixAuthor: Dumisani KoyanaMamelodi Sundowns has continuously been on the fore front when it comes to promoting grassroots football across both the men's and women’s teams. Over the years, the club’s structures have prioritised the personal, physical, technical, tactical, psychological and social development of talented youngsters across the country.In recent times, Academy graduates such as Percy Tau, Sphelele Mkhulise and the late Motjeka Madisha (may his Soul Rest In Peace) all donned the iconic yellow jersey thanks to the academy structures that developed their unique abilities. Furthermore, a few talented youngsters from within the club’s ranks are currently on loan at other clubs and are being closely monitored by the coaches.

Presently, the Development structures have eight teams. Top of the list is the DStv Diski team followed by the M-Tigers which plays in the ABC Motsepe League. Below, there is the Under-19 team that serves as a feeder to the Diski team. This is followed by the Under-17, Under-15 and Under-13 teams which are all affiliated with the Gauteng Development League. There is also the Grassroots programme (which focuses on boys and girls within the ages of 9 and 13 years) which runs on Sundays. These youngsters are well trained and mentored and often feature in the Football Association league of Pretoria. 

In addition, satellites programmes based in Mamelodi and Gezina fall under the Sundowns brand. The purpose of these satellites is to monitor the progress of youngsters and to assess their growth and knowledge of the game. Currently, these satellite streams are led by qualified coaches such as Coach Veli Ogstander and former skipper Coach Themba Mnguni, who is a club legend.
Mamelodi Sundowns 2021 MultiChoice Diski Team that forms part of the Academy Celebrating© Samuel Shivambu - BackpagePixNext-generation superstars
Remarkably, the 15-year old trio of Lumka Qhekeka, Sphesihle Magazi and Sinenhlanhla Nkosi recently grabbed their debuts in the Hollywoodbets Super League. This resonates with the club’s key mission of ‘catching them young and developing them’ for the future.
The Mamelodi Sundowns Digital Magazine crew linked up with some of the highly-talented Academy youngsters who are being groomed to become the next generation of Sundowns stars.
Katlego Melebane ﹣ Sundowns Under-13 team© Ayanda NdamaneOne of such is 12-year-old Katlego Melebane who currently plays for the Under-13 team while her brother (Karabo) is part of the Under-15 set-up. 

“I joined the club and was part of the Grassroot program when I was just eight years old. I still remember the nerves I felt during my first training sessions. Thankfully, things got easier because of the presence of my brother. Due to our progress with the club, our father has become a Brazilian,” the smiling youngster stated.

Katlego also spoke about how the all-conquering Sundowns Ladies has motivated her.

“It is my dream to someday play for the Sundowns Ladies. I was so happy when the team made history by winning the first-ever CAF Women's Champions League. That factor has motivated me and I am looking to build on this newfound belief,” concluded the 12-year-old.
Another highly-rated youngster is 15-year-old defensive midfielder Tshiamo Masisi who hails from Rustenburg. The prodigy who joined the Academy in 2016 is loving every minute spent at the Grassroots programme.

“So far, my time here has been enjoyable. I am learning everyday thanks to the quality of coaches who are interested in my growth as a footballer. Thanks to their constant efforts, I have fallen in love with the game deeply and I am looking forward to showcasing what I have learned from them very soon,” an excited Tshiamo stated.

The soft-spoken Tshiamo who is aiming to acquire a qualification in Sports Management when he is older spoke on his long-term ambitions.

“My immediate dream is to represent my national team at junior level. I also want to work my way up to the senior team; and one day play for Bafana Bafana and win the FIFA World Cup,” the 15-year-old declared confidently.
Jenason Jerome Karelse celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2021 MultiChoice Diski Challenge© Samuel Shivambu - BackpagePixThe Mamelodi Sundowns Scouting Department has also been lauded thanks to its knack for snapping up some of the best talents around. One of the recent acquisitions is Jenason Jerome Karelse who has dazzled in this season’s DStv Diski Challenge. Just recently, Karelse became the first player to score three consecutive braces in the competition.

“This season has been good to me. Although we did not start well, we have managed to get very good wins under our belts. Scoring goals is what I love doing; that is why I approach games with the mindset of banging in the goals. I am enjoying my football and the desire to improve my game. In the next three to five years, I want to be playing in the senior team with the likes of Themba Zwane and Peter Shalulile who are my favourite footballers”, concluded Karelse.
At Mamelodi Sundowns, the grassroots development process is intentional and beneficial. Training is completely compatible with educational development and young players are encouraged to take their studies seriously. The current set-up is an aspiring, modern and revolutionary project that is aimed at ensuring that Sundowns continues to nurture talented footballers for the club, the nation and beyond.