THE Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search ship is moving, admittedly not as fast as aspiring players would like, but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for the players that passed try-outs in previous months.
The talent identification programme, which has already unearthed lots of skilled players who have gone on to ply their trade in top leagues, is currently at the Bootcamp 30 stage, which will start at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria tomorrow and runs until 2 July.
The Bootcamp phase of the campaign is aimed at honing the players’ physical and mental well-being.
Nedbank also enables players to “See Money Differently” through football, as a part of Bootcamp 30 is dedicated to educating participants on how to sharpen their financial management skills.
Ultimately the Ke Yona Team Search is a programme rooted in providing budding football stars with the necessary tools to blossom in a highly competitive industry.
Dedicated experts are on-site at all the camps and their role is to track and ensure the progress of all players from raw talent to being ripe for the picking.
The 30 players will be trimmed down to the final 18 who will play against the 2017 Nedbank Cup champions, SuperSport United.
These players will then be drafted into PSL teams where they could be eligible for professional contract offers.
Following a successful try-out phase across the country, a selection of 48 young hopefuls underwent an elimination bootcamp at the High Performance Centre last weekend.
Since the soccer talent search’s inception, former Bafana Bafana mentors Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba and Owen Da Gama have teamed up with Mzansi development experts Mike “Sporo” Mangena and Khabo Zondo to make for a versatile yet well mixed team of selectors.
The campaign has successfully harvested a crop of fully-developed professional players such as graduates Ian Chikohwa, Bongani Mbuli and Aubrey Modiba.
Chikohwa, who captained the 2015 Ke Yona team, expressed his appreciation for the intense bootcamp programme.
He said: “My abilities as a footballer were stretched and I can truly say that during the course of the programme I reached a certain level of maturity as a player.
“I no longer relied solely on my talent. The programme really helped me to develop and grow fully, in ways I could not have achieved on my own.
He added: “The best part of being a Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search graduate is the ongoing support and guidance from Nedbank. I am excited to see the search continue to fulfil the dreams of other young men like myself.”
Chikohwa is also thrilled about Nedbank’s latest initiative – the Nedbank Ke Yona smartphone app: “It is pretty cool because for the first time ever, people will get to see exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of what happens. Some of the most memorable lessons were taught to me at bootcamps, I definitely think I will enjoy seeing videos from there.”