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KEVIN DE BRUYNE CUP: SUNDOWNS U15 SQUAD TO FLY THE FLAG HIGH IN BELGIUM Sundowns youngsters at trainingAuthor: Dumisani Koyana Photos: Sundowns MediaMasandawana U-15 Squad becomes the first-ever African team to compete in the Kevin De Bruyne CupPlaying against some of the best teams in the world is the dream of most aspiring footballers. Having the opportunity to participate in a tournament on another continent created by a global soccer star, can sometimes feel like a distant opportunity; but this is not the case for the Mamelodi Sundowns under-15 side. This is no longer just a dream but has become a reality as they will be partaking in the sixth edition of the Kevin De Bruyne Tournament.The competition which has been named after Belgium national and Manchester City midfielder, Kevin de Bruyne, has been running since 2016 and has been counted amongst one of the top youth tournaments in Europe.
The Brazilians participation is the result of the partnership between Masandawana and Roc Nation Sports International, who the Manchester City star is currently signed with. Michael Yormak, President of Roc Nation Sports, spoke about what it means for the youngsters of Masandawana to participate in such a prestigious tournament, “It’s a huge moment for us to bring these footballing brands together, we have been in discussions with the club Chairman for a while. Our strategy is to help young players in South Africa hone their skills on an international platform. The experience for the U-15 team to go to Belgium and compete with some of the best clubs in the world is something that we are looking forward to witnessing.” Masandawana hosted a special announcement, directly from Kevin De Bruyne, to inform the travelling youngsters of their participation as the first African club who will be playing against the likes of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG, and Bayern Munich. The Club Chairman, Tlhopie Motsepe, spoke about the importance of such an announcement, “It is part of Mamelodi Sundowns strategy to develop our academy and South African football. Investing in the youth starts 10 years before you reap and see the fruits of your labor,” expressed the Chairman. In attendance were some first team players who provided support to the youngsters. Ronwen Williams, who is no stranger to international tournaments, shared his memories about being part of such footballing moments, “I was very fortunate with my previous team. In 2007, as a youngster, I was afforded the opportunity to go and play in Holland. To see the young boys being told that that they would be playing at a tournament hosted by one of the greatest footballers of our time, brought back memories to when I was their age. I just hope that they will use the opportunity to better themselves as players and learn as much as they can in Belgium. It really is an opportunity for them to go test themselves against the best in world within the same age group. It is highly important for their growth as they will be able to gauge themselves and see where they are in their development as a players,” added Williams. A few senior team players showing the youngsters support for their trip abroadThe Tournament is set to take place on the 10th of June in Belgium. Simon Blangwe, who is the assistant coach of the side mentioned that they are not going to just learn but also to compete, “These are the tournaments you wish to play in as a youngster and we are grateful to be given this opportunity by the club. We are not going to the tournament to make up numbers, we are going there to represent the club and country and we will put in our best efforts to bring back the trophy.” With the stage set for the Masandawana youngsters to take on their counterparts from around the globe, a life changing trip awaits that will certainly challenge them and change them for the better, both personally and in their football careers. GROUP AFC BarcelonaManchester City FCMamelodi Sundowns FCGROUP BFC Bayern MunichSociedade Esportiva PalmeirasOdense BoldklubGROUP CRB LeipzigParis Saint GermainClub Brugge KVGROUP DReal Madrid CFAFC AjaxKAA Gent