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From grassroots to glory


FNB celebrates 13 years of football excellence in nurturing young talent.

Amidst excitement and camaraderie, Kevin Nkoane Primary School clinched the girls’ division championship. They are seen receiving the trophy from Brenda Mafunisa, FNB Football First project manager. Picture: Supplied

FNB’s enduring commitment to nurturing young football talent was splendidly showcased as it celebrated the 13th anniversary of its renowned FNB Football First Programme. This groundbreaking initiative has consistently played a crucial role in cultivating gifted young boys and girls. It’s a journey that transforms them from hopefuls at the grassroots level into formidable players on the Under-13 and Under-15 stages.

This past weekend, Kimberley was the host of the eagerly anticipated annual regional festival, a spectacle that vividly demonstrated the programme’s triumph. Eight schools converged, competing with fervour for top honours in both girls’ and boys’ categories. Ms. Brenda Mafunisa, the adept project manager, orchestrated the event in collaboration with Coach Spakes, head of the FNB Football First Programme, and the indispensable Mr. Mondella, the programme facilitator.

Participating schools included Sol Plaatje Primary School, Kevin Nkoane Primary School, Technical High School, and Mankurwane Primary School. The boys’ division comprised Emang Mmogo High School, Technical High School, Mankurwane Primary School, and Kimberley Boys High School. Amidst excitement and camaraderie, Kevin Nkoane Primary School clinched the girls’ division championship, while Emang Mmogo High School triumphed in the boys’ category. Ms. Brenda Mafunisa proudly awarded the FNB First regional champions’ accolade to the victorious teams.

Emang Mmogo High School triumphed in the boys’ category during the FNB Football First Programme that was held recently. Picture: Supplied

The FNB Football First Programme’s reach extends far beyond competitive events, as it diligently upholds its commitment to nurturing young talent. The dedicated coaches have conducted development clinics and training sessions, positively impacting an impressive 23,438 boys and girls through the 2011 FNB Legacy programme. This comprehensive endeavour included 397 football clinics, 10 football festivals, and invaluable life skills programmes across every region.

Since its inception in 2011, the programme has been a magnet for emerging football stars, attracting a staggering 29,000 young players annually from 39 schools across five regions: Thohoyandou, George, Mthatha, Pietermaritzburg, and Kimberley. These talents are nurtured on state-of-the-art artificial pitches tailored for the programme. The initiative involves 660 coaching clinics held over 44 weeks, with each region completing an average of 132 sessions every year.

One hallmark of the FNB Football First Programme is the annual festival in Johannesburg, where the cream of the crop from regional tournaments represent their areas. This event serves as a fertile ground for scouts to identify budding talent, further enriching the football landscape. FNB’s dedication to youth sports finds embodiment in the FNB Football Festival, a crucial platform for cultivating the passion and participation of young athletes. The aim is clear: to nurture exceptional players for national teams while leaving a lasting impact on all participants.

Remarkable success stories emerge from this program, including players from the Kimberley region who have flourished not only within the FNB Football First Programme but also in the broader football world. Emile Witbooi, a standout in the SA Men’s Under-17 squad, stands as a testament to the programme’s effectiveness. Similarly, Jomo Selemogo’s signing with the Motsepe division side, Hungry Lions FC, underscores the path paved by FNB’s nurturing efforts.

The trail of success continues with Shantel Olifant in Richmond United Ladies, Ponatshego Mohlabi in the SA Under-17 Women’s team, and Katlego Moalahi as captain at Diamond Ladies Football Club. Nosipho Khomari and Hannah Mohapi of Royal Wizards FC have made their mark, as has Ntshepeng Ndlwana, a key player in SA Schools of Excellence.

As FNB marks 13 years of exceptional football excellence, its resounding success stories resonate across the nation, a testament to dedication, mentorship, and belief in young talent’s potential. With every kick, pass, and goal, FNB’s Football First Programme continues to shape South African football’s future, leaving a legacy that extends far beyond the pitch’s boundaries.

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