Former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana defender Siphiwe Mkhonza has opened up about his coaching ambitions, and why he has had to cut back on his involvement in the Shield Sbonis'iDiski football development programme.
The talent-spotting contest, which previously saw Shield team up with Orlando Pirates and Chelsea, has forged a relationship with Premier League champions Manchester City as well as LaLiga in a bid to expand its footprint in South Africa.
With the nationwide contest having been expanded from five to 10 regions this year, in a bid to reach over 20 000 aspiring football stars, Mkhonza has lifted the lid on his new role in the once-in-a-lifetime competition.
"This year, I have taken the technical adviser role, because I wanted to take a break to further my coaching courses so that's why my role has changed," he told Soccer Laduma in an exclusive interview.
"Obviously, I have been heavily involved over the past two years. Nothing has changed except for the fact that I am not selecting the players this year, due to me finalising my own coaching courses."
In addition to claiming that he would return for next year's Shield Sbonis'iDiski campaign in a coaching role, Mkhonza offered some invaluable advice to aspiring footballers on being mentally prepared to overcome any challenges the game will throw at them.
"Coaching is where I want to be, that's my calling; I always say that coaching is my calling," he added.
"The reason I'm also taking my coaching courses is because I want to grow as a coach, because I know I can contribute a lot to South African football.
"I've always said to the youngsters that your ability does not dictate your success in this game. Yes, your ability can get you places, but when you face adversity, that's when the mental strength comes into play.
"When you face adversity, then you tend to think 'now I can't make it', but I've always said to the youngsters, if you fail once, you must fail bigger, don't fail small. I've been telling all the regions that it is very important to understand that experiencing failure is part of the game."
Upon the conclusion of the nationwide trials in June, the top 25 players will be selected to travel to Pretoria for further trials in July.
Thereafter, three winners will be chosen, and they will then travel to Chelsea's famous Cobham training ground to train under the guidance of the Premier League giants' coaching staff.
One aspiring footballer will be crowned the 2019 Shield Ultimate Player, and will take home a one-year contract with Pirates' reserve team.
As a fan, you can enter the contest to stand a chance of winning a once-in-a-lifetime and fully-paid VIP experience with Manchester City at their home ground or at a LaLiga game in Spain by purchasing any Shield product and dialling the USSD code with the last four digits of the barcode on the packaging.