Vodacom NXT LVL Wrap-up!
Vodacom NXT LVL Wrap-up!
by Soccer Laduma
Oct 19, 2016 01:53 PM
|Tags: Vodacom Development|
The Vodacom NXT LVL campaign has come and gone. From thousands of videos sent through, to a final 16 taking the title and winning a Tuks Sports High School scholarship, this initiative by Vodacom has been a success as it has paved a way for future South African footballers. The youngsters’ dreams are on the verge of becoming a reality and there promises to be a bright future for all in the football fraternity.
Feedback from the top 32 players:
“As a young star, I have learned a lot from the soccer legends whom I call my coaches. Having Deshi Bhaktawer as my goalkeeping coach has truly grown me as a player. Furthermore, he has taught me to be patient in life. Bhaktawer told me that in order for me to grow, I needed to personally improve on my game every day, even if it means training by myself. My message to the Vodacom NXT LVL coaches is: Thank you for encouraging and growing us. I wish it is not only us you help.”
“I have a learned a lot from former defenders Lucas Radebe and Cyril Nzama, not forget Simphiwe Dludlu. I have learned to position myself as a defender, how to move and how to tackle opponents. I feel like a professional already. I want to be a professional footballer and I want to see myself playing for big teams abroad. With the chance that the Vodacom NXT LVL has presented to me, I think this is the beginning for me. I’m working myself up from here!”
“It wasn’t easy as the competition was very tough! I’m glad I made it to the Top 16 and was excited to be chosen. At the same time I was nervous, as I had been competing with five talented goalkeepers. That really put serious pressure on me. Unfortunately only two were selected and I was happy to be one of the two. It’s never easy when talent goes head-to-head with hard work, but, at the end of the day, hard work always pays off. Thank you to the coaches for showing us how to play as a team and how to become professional footballers.”
“I had been training very hard with my club and also at the Vodacom NXT LVL camp. I gave my all at training. The coaches saw me, then I was given a chance to go through to the top 16. I definitely learned that even if you fail, you need to get back up, work very hard and carry on fighting for what you want.”
16 Team Fish players win scholarships!
The top 32 were chosen and halved into two teams coached by Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish. With 16 players in each team, it was a fierce encounter and both sides showcased their best performances on the day. However, there was only place for one winner and Team Fish were head and shoulders above their opponents, meaning they were afforded the opportunity to further their footballing careers at the Tuks Sports High School.
Why the campaign was initiated
Vodacom decided to create a platform for the youth from all corners of South Africa to showcase their skills and talents. This saw many of the youngsters use technology to try and catch the attention of legends and Vodacom NXT LVL coaches Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish. It is rather difficult for talented young footballers to find an institution, or even to join a soccer academy, due to a variety of circumstances. With Vodacom providing this platform, it gave an opportunity to all those who were willing to take their talents to the next level.
A word from Shorty…
Soccer Laduma chatted to Vodacom NXT LVL mentor, Simphiwe ‘Shorty’ Dludlu, as she reflected on the campaign and shared some advice for the young stars.
“From having a group of 100 kids, I questioned myself because I did not know how we were going to cut the group down. During the exhibition match, they showed us great talent, which made it even harder for us to select the players. It just goes to show how much talent we have here in South Africa. When we made the cuts, we were even disappointed with ourselves because some of the players could have stayed and progressed through to the later stages, but we had to make a decision…”
Girls need to be given more opportunities
“The girls really brought the competition and it was good to see that they were fighting hard to secure a spot. It just goes to show that if more girls are given these kinds of opportunities, women’s football in our country will grow.”
The unlucky ones…
“Sometimes luck has to be on your side. For those that did not make it past the Boot Camp round, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not like they were not good enough; there had to be choices made and unfortunately they did not make it. They are still very young, learning the basics and are still in the development phase, so they can still push on and work harder to improve their game. They should train more and polish their skills, and they will end up playing for the teams in our leagues.”
A new era…
“For the ones that made it, it’s the beginning of a new era. It has been a dream come true for these kids. Now it is all up to them to grab this opportunity with both hands because these types of opportunities don’t come around every day. I love campaigns such as this one from Vodacom that ensure that education is still a big part in the kids’ lives. Education is very important because it opens up many doors, especially for when their football careers are over. That is something that no person can take away from them.”
Fish speaks out
We also spoke to Vodacom NXT LVL mentor Mark Fish, who had a word of consolation for those who didn’t make the cut and encouragement for those who did…
“The youngsters who did not make it to the top 32 need to realise that pressure can sometimes get the best of you. Sometimes you do not perform well when it is required from you – that’s normal for any person on any career path. They should not give up! Time is still on their side and they can grow up to be the footballer that they always dreamt of being. We might have made the decisions, but we are human and maybe we did not realise the talents that we let go. They should be encouraged by the fact that they managed to make the top 100. That means that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. They just need to be a little more committed and definitely work harder.
“Through Vodacom NXT LVL, and having been chosen by all the coaches involved, the 16 players that have won scholarships have to realise that we have all given them a platform. It is their time to use it to their advantage, whether is on the football field or even in the classroom!”
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