Sundowns sign 17-year-old

2012-02-09 14:59
Franco Haai (File)
Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns have snapped up 17-year-old goalkeeper Franco Haai following his outstanding performances for Rietvale High School in the Sanlam Kay Motsepe Schools Cup.

The 17-year-old, who underwent a series of trials, before signing for the club, will join Downs' youth set-up.

The Schools Cup is an annual football tournament that caters for players between the ages of 15 and 19 and is open to every school in South Africa with the Head of Development at Mamelodi Sundowns Sam Mbatha admitting that Haai has all the attributes to make it at the top level.

He told the club's official website: "This youngster has exceptional skills, a good attitude, determination, and is intelligent.

"Skills alone do not make a great player, but rather a combination of skills and intelligence, all of which Franco is blessed with. Our plan is to now groom him for inclusion into the first team within the next couple of years."

Haai was delighted to have been given a chance by Sundowns and has revealed his excitement.

He said: "This is an amazing opportunity for me. My focus will be on football and becoming a professional, but what I am also excited about is that Mamelodi Sundowns has registered me with Hoerskool Hendrick Verwoerd where I will complete Grade 12. Education is important to me as I would like to study Law."

After beginning his soccer career at school, Haai then joined local club Ukhamba Black Aces FC and represented the Northern Cape in the SAFA Under-17 Provincial Championships in 2010 where he took home the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award.

The South African Schools Football Association, meanwhile, has applauded Downs for spotting the talent on display, and is hopeful other clubs will now see the tournament as a good place to observe potential stars of the future.

Acting SASFA president Innocent Sirovha told the Sowetan: "We are delighted that Sundowns development have signed Franco, he was one of the most exciting players in the tournament last year.

"We hope other Premiership clubs will also send scouts to the 2012 edition of the tournament. We want to see more players from this tournament and others doing duty for Bafana Bafana and other national teams.

"The support we are getting from Sundowns president (and tournament sponsor) Patrice Motsepe is highly appreciated."

Another unnamed player has also signed for Sundowns with Mbatha admitting there was plenty of talent on display.

"We signed up two players from last year's tournament, but there are many others that have potential and we will be watching closely.

"We could not sign the others as they were completing Grade 12 last year and were registered to Clubs that were competing in the SASFA Second Division so we could not approach them. Once the season is over we will have another look at them and make further decisions."

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