Dumisani Thusi, head coach of the Shield Sbonis'iDiski footballing programme, has offered footballers wanting to take part in the once-in-a-lifetime campaign some invaluable advice, which could stand them in good stead in their bid to be crowned the 2019 Shield Ultimate Player.
The national talent scouting campaign, which among other opportunities, is set to land an aspiring footballer a one-year contract with Orlando Pirates' MultiChoice Diski Challenge team, is back and even bigger in its third year of existence.
In a bid to expand their footprint across South Africa, Shield, who previously teamed up with Premier League side Chelsea and Absa Premiership runners-up Pirates, have announced further collaborative efforts with LaLiga and EPL champions Manchester City in order to reach more than 20 000 aspiring football stars.
Thusi, who previously gave a rundown on how the campaign has fared thus far, has revealed the one piece of advice he would offer footballers looking to undergo trials in one of the 10 regions in the country this year.
"I always say the same thing to the boys: 'Be yourself!' The moment you start thinking about the trials, and start thinking about Orlando Pirates and Chelsea, you begin to make mistakes," he told Soccer Laduma.
"Be yourself, be yourself within the team. Enjoy doing what you do most, and that's football!
"I think the players should realise that they are in a position to express themselves without any fear, but as soon as you introduce the element of fear into what you are doing and start trying to convince someone (of your talent), (things will go downhill).
"Enjoy your game, play your normal game and it will be easier for someone to identify you as just a player, who is enjoying his or herself."
With the campaign now in its third year of existence, Thusi reflected and claimed that there is a need for the country to start producing more midfielders and strikers from the programme.
"For the past two years in our country, we have (mostly) been producing defenders. I think it's about high time, knowing the current situation in our football in the league (Absa Premiership) and national team (Bafana Bafana) with our strikers, that we start producing more quality strikers," he added.
"In order for us to have the best or top strikers, we need top midfielders, who will be able to supply those strikers. That being said, we also need top strikers who are able to convert the chances created by midfielders.
"I think those are the two areas where we can improve a lot."
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.