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CELEBRATING THE SPIRIT OF MADIBA THROUGH FOOTBALL “OUR CHILDREN ARE OUR GREATEST TREASURE, THEY ARE OUR FUTURE” – NELSON MANDELA Author: Dumisani KoyanaPhotos: Sundowns MediaNelson Mandela Day is an annual international day celebrated each year on July 18 in honour of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, also known as ‘Tata’. The United Nations officially passed a resolution announcing the day in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.The theme for 2022 is “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. To mark this special day, Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club organised a coaching clinic in Rustenberg. Nearly two hundred kids from the North West Province came to the Royal Marang Sports Complex to enjoy a day with the Brazilians whilst they prepared for the 2022/23 season. Kids during the coaching clinicKids between the ages of 10 and 16 attended the day where they had the opportunity to watch the domestic- treble winners’ training session. Thereafter, the players had the chance to coach the youngsters in a light-hearted atmosphere. In attendance were Club Chairman Tlhopie Motsepe, Senior Team Coaches, Senior Team Players and Youth Academy Coaches as well as members of the Mamelodi Sundowns staff. Andile Jali giving some invaluable coaching to the kidsReigning DSTV Premiership defender of the season, Lyle Lakay was excited about the activation on such a memorable occasion.
“This has been a great experience today because Nelson Mandela meant so much to South Africa and the world at large. We know what Tata did for us and this is a great way to celebrate his life and honour his ever-blessed memory.”
Lakay also spoke of how the event rekindled a passion in him, “Today, I discovered some of my hidden talents as a coach. I have kids and to be here with these young ones ignited a spark for coaching. When my footballing career is done, I may go into coaching kids because I felt something special today,” the left back said. “A youngster approached me after our training session and told me that we share the same jersey number. I gave him my training shorts and seeing his smile was one of the best feelings ever. We must always make sure we inspire people around us”, said Lakay. Gastón Sirino greeting the kidsSupporters Coordinator Cedric Moela, leading the proceedingsThe coaching clinic drills were organised by the Youth Academy Coaches and spearheaded by the Head of Methodology at Mamelodi Sundowns, Coach Shawn Bishop.
On what the day meant for the club, Coach Shawn stated, “What a wonderful day it has been for us as a club. I could see the smiles on the faces of the young ones when they saw the senior team players coming out for training. Sometimes we take for granted the impact we can have on the youth, but what the club did today is something great.”
The club’s Head of Methodology further spoke on how the sessions unearthed some young talent, “We are aware that this area has no professional football but the rough diamonds we have seen here show promise for the future. Based on the sessions today, we are convinced that professional footballers (boys and girls) will emerge from these talented groups. We know what this day symbolises for South Africa and we are happy that we did our part as a club. At Mamelodi Sundowns, we always say there is no future without the youth.” Lebohang Maboe and Thapelo Morena during the clinicThapelo Morena signing autographsPhila Ncube who is part of the Rustenburg Local Football Association, which collaborated with Mamelodi Sundowns to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, shared his feelings on the day.
“Mamelodi Sundowns has given our kids hope that they can achieve anything. When I was informed about this day, I knew that we are going to touch young lives. We know that this is a day to celebrate an icon and to do it with young ones is a feeling that they will not forget. In years to come, some of these kids will either be professionals in different fields or even soccer players and they will always look back on this day as a reference point,” Ncube stated. Steve Komphela giving life lessons to the aspirational footballersIN THE WORDS OF NELSON MANDELA, “THE TRUE CHARACTER OF A SOCIETY IS REVEALED IN HOW IT TREATS ITS CHILDREN” Peter Shalulile's signature celebrationMamelodi Sundowns Football Club have always prioritised the development of grassroots football through soccer clinics and training workshops in both urban and rural settings. The event at Royal Marang Sports Complex was one of the latest achievements as the club continues its unending quest to inspire the next generation.