Vodacom NXT LVL have announced the 100 names of young local footballers who were selected for the soccer boot camp scheduled to take place at the University of Pretoria High Performance Centre from 26 September to 3 October 2016.
Vodacom NXT LVL is a campaign launched by Vodacom four months ago to help empower young people under the age of 25 through the use of technology by providing them with opportunities that allow them the platform to showcase their talent.
"To take part in the soccer talent search, hopefuls had to showcase some of their soccer skills by uploading their videos on vodacomnxtlvl.co.za, or by attending Vodacom NXT LVL activations which took place around the country." Vodacom brand director Mzamo Masito said.
The campaign saw Vodacom go on a journey, with some of South Africa's soccer legends giving aspiring soccer players, both boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 16, the platform to showcase their footballing ability and stand a chance to form part of an elite 100 players who will go to a boot camp under the mentorship of South African legends Mark Fish and Lucas Radebe.
Vodacom received 1 000 videos and a panel made up of soccer legends Radebe, Fish, Edward Motale, Portia Modise, Cyril Nzama and Simphiwe Dludlu sat with auditors for more than four days to view all the videos that were uploaded on the Vodacom NXT LVL website.
One hundred players were selected from the 1 000 names to attend the boot camp. These players, both boys and girls, are made up of 10 goalkeepers, 30 defenders, 40 midfielders and 20 strikers.
"This has been a great journey for us as we have a long history of empowering South Africans through technology," Masito added.
"Through this campaign we were able to give children who ordinarily would not have had the opportunity to engage with our brand by offering them the platform to live their passion and realise their dreams through soccer."
Here's what Radebe had to say about the campaign.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to go around the country to see the talent that we have in South Africa. One of the greatest things about this programme is the fact that it is open to both girls and boys. What Vodacom is doing here is giving young girls a chance to develop their soccer skills on the same level as their male counterparts," Radebe said.
Fish also had his say on the project.
"I am glad that this initiative focuses on this age group. At this point we can still coach the children and they can still get the basics right so that by the time they want to play professional soccer, they have all the basics. Vodacom is giving us the opportunity to catch these talented children at an early age," Fish said.
During the week of the Vodacom NXT LVL Boot Camp, through a series of sports science testing and coaching, the 100 players will be trimmed to 32 players who will play an exhibition match at the Tuks Stadium. The winning team of 16 players will be awarded a bursary, and the other 16 players will have R50 000 contributed to their education.
"I am very impressed with this campaign as it takes a holistic approach to the development of a sportsperson. So often we, as sportspeople, were forced to pick between playing soccer or education, and now, through this Vodacom NXT LVL campaign, children have a chance to do both," Portia Modise said.
Masito's final words on the initiative:
"As the youth demographic continues to grow, it was very important for us to create platforms that are engaging and game-changing, which also open doors for young people," Masito concluded.