root - April 9, 2024

Three talented and dedicated Dunoon soccer players chosen to join a select group of 20 Western Cape youngsters set to showcase their skills overseas.

Dunoon coach fosters talent amidst township challenges.

Peter Luhanga 

Three talented young soccer players from Dunoon who honed their skills at a neglected children’s park amid dumped garbage, have been selected as part of a group of 20 youngsters from Western Cape Football Clubs to travel to Gothenburg, Sweden on 1 June.

This opportunity not only promises to showcase their talent overseas but also creates the chance to be scouted by prestigious European clubs. Their journey begins on 1 June, with the matches set to be played on 4 June.

The Gareth Ncaca Foundation has selected the youngsters following an invitation from Utsiktens BK, a professional soccer team based in Gothenburg. Utsiktens BK has a history of success in Swedish football and competes in Division 1, the country’s third tier, and is renowned for its commitment to nurturing talented young players.

Gareth Ncaca, founder of the Gareth Ncaca Foundation, is a celebrated professional soccer player with a career that began in the 1998 season. Over the years, he has worn more than 51 jerseys while playing for teams such as All Stars, Bay United, Moroka Swallows, and CAF African champions Mamelodi Sundowns. Ncaca established himself as a versatile athlete and participated in numerous competitions, including the National First Division, Premier Soccer League, Telkom Knockout, and MTN8.

Ncaca says he is driven by a desire to offer opportunities to young players who haven’t been part of programmes in Paarl and Langa, and selecting the players was a gratifying experience.

 He says he scouted talent by attending Local Football Association competitions and engaging with friends.

He said he was lucky enough to be part of Project Playground (PPG), a non-profit organisation for vulnerable youth in Langa, and often travelled to Sweden. “I could see the opportunity that our Africa brothers were getting that side.” 

He says he established his foundation in 2018 and hopes the trips to Sweden, aimed at providing the young players with exposure for scouting opportunities, will become an annual tradition.

One of the selected players, Someleze Yalezo, a Grade 10 learner at Inkwenkwe Secondary School, spends his time outside of class and homework honing his soccer skills at a neglected children’s park in Dunoon. 

Despite lacking proper soccer boots and training attire, he plays left back for FC Mimosa, a team affiliated with the Dunoon Local Football Association under the South African Football Association (SAFA).

Yalezo says he was surprised at being selected for the under-6 team to travel to Sweden, considering that most of the group were under-20 players. 

“I was not shocked to be selected because I trust my football skills and I trust myself, but I was surprised because the selection targeted under-20 and I am 16-years-old,” he says, “When I heard the news, I could not believe it… I’ve never traveled outside the country. Sjoo! Sjoo! Sjoo! It makes me feel proud of myself.”

He said it was hard to stay motivated when only being able to play in a neglected children’s park where people illegally dump their waste. “People think we would not get anywhere with football. Kids drop out of football and start drinking alcohol and doing all sorts of other things,” says Yalezo.

He says he would love to be scouted for a professional team overseas so he can help his mother. This desire fuels him to train twice as hard, he says, jogging the the 8km round trip from Dunoon to Blouberg beach four times a week.

His coach, Zimasile Tinti, also known as “T-man” in Dunoon, co-founded FC Mimosa and coaches the under-7, 8, 10, 12, and 14 teams.

T-man says while Yalezo plays for FC Mimosa, the other two players selected are affiliated with the Dunoon Youth Sports Academy (DYSA).

He says the players profiles have already been sent to Sweden and they are set to play in several matches. 

“We do not have football facilities and equipment even though we have talent. For all the levels I coach I only have five soccer balls,” says T-man.

Before becoming a coach, T-man was a decorated soccer player, having competed in the South African Breweries (SAB) league fourth division.

He says coaching soccer to township children does not bring him any income, yet despite receiving offers for paid coaching positions from football clubs in affluent suburbs, he has declined them. He believes that accepting such offers would leave the children of Dunoon without guidance and support.

T-Man says anyone willing to support grassroots football can contact him at 078 734 3775, or reach out to the Gareth Ncaca Foundation on 067 464 7932. Donations can also be made directly to the Dunoon Local Football Association Nedbank account number: 2006970269. 

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