SA duo rewarded at Nike trial
Everton's Bafana Bafana midfielder Steven Pienaar scored an amazing goal against Aston Villa in the English Premiership.
For the second year running South Africa’s youngsters dominated Nike's 'The Chance' global football trial competition, earning two places in the final selection of the global football talent search.
Charlie Tsotetsi and Melusi Zulu, both from Johannesburg, competed in a five-day football trial hosted in Barcelona, Spain last week, and were on Saturday confirmed among the best of 16 international players to be scouted by renowned coaches.
Tsotetsi and Zulu will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime world tour from January 2013, travelling to the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom, to compete against the United States Soccer Federation Youth Academy, Juventus Youth Academy and Manchester United Youth Academy, respectively.
During the tour, their opportunity at turning professional will be accelerated as scouts frequent these Academies to identify new talent. The duo were selected out of the best 100 players from 55 countries.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance all my life and it’s finally here! I’m very excited and will be working even harder to make it to the top, which is turning professional,” said an ecstatic Tsotetsi.
Tsotetsi was earmarked from day one, under the watchful eyes of some 25 coaches including head coach Jimmy Gilligan from the Nike Academy.
Zulu, who is only 16-years-old, played exceptionally well, also catching the attention of the scouts early on. Gilligan was impressed with their tactical and technical abilities, and their discipline.
“I am very proud of myself and know that I’ve given it my all as I wanted this so much. The entire experience and what Nike has done for us is amazing. I can’t wait to get back home to celebrate with my family and friends,” commented Zulu.
The final 100 gathered in Barcelona for the week to train and play in the shadows of the Camp Nou at FC Barcelona’s training centre. The group of young footballers was cut to just 26 on the final day of competition which saw the players step out at FC Barcelona’s Mini Estadi - in a semi-final game refereed by celebrated English match official Howard Webb - as the coaches made their final decision on the selection of the best 16.
“To the winners, I say a massive well done,” said Gilligan. “Out of 100 000 footballers who entered The Chance, they are the top 16 and I am looking forward to working with each of them. They should enjoy the moment but there is still a lot of work to be done. We will be taking them on an incredible trip to play some of the best youth teams in the world.”
South Africa was represented by three players, with Tsotetsi and Zulu progressing comfortably through each round, while Nicholas Mynhardt progressed to the top 52.
The players will be arriving in South Africa on Monday, August 27.
In 2011, Reyaad Pieterse and Jonathon King were selected in the first The Chance trial hosted in London. They won a year-long contract at the Nike Academy, playing against the best academy teams in the world. Pieterse recently signed a professional contract with Shamrock Rovers FC in Ireland.
Final Top 16:
#32 Dimitris Komnos, Greece
#8 Wallace Camilo, Brazil
#27 David Fernandes, France
#83 Bubakary Sonko, Sweden#77 Melusi Zulu, South Africa
#72 Petar Golubovic, Serbia
#79 Gonzalo Balbi, Spain
#100 Brian Iloski, United States
#92 Jose Figura, United Kingdom
#7 Dario Van Den Buijs, Belgium#76 Teboho Charlie Tsotetsi, South Africa
#41 Ryosuke Kinoshita, Japan
#68 Kirill Laptev, Russia
#78 Saifeddine Alami Bazza, Spain
#6 Ismail H’Maidat, Belgium
#39 Marco Di Lauro, Italy
Visit The Chance homepage on NikeInc.com
to follow the daily action at the finals.Teboho Charlie Tsotetsi and Melusi Zulu (File)