Twenty Stephanian Ottery Football Club players will be off to represent the country at two international tournaments in April.
They will be playing in the Dubai Super Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Manchester Cup in the United Kingdom.
The two tournaments provide a platform for teams from around the world to perform in front
of scouts, including representatives from the English Premier League.
Niyaaz Hendricks of Stephanian Ottery Football Club and 19 other under-12 members were selected by Stephanian’s under-12 coaches to go on tour with South African Schools Football Association (SASFA).
Niyaaz, known as Mo Salah (Liverpool soccer player) by his teammates, according to his dad Noer, said his son started his soccer career at the age of 8.
His dad said Niyaaz was “super excited” when he heard the news, “then stopped afterwards saying daddy, why Manchester, can’t we play in Liverpool”, as he is a big Liverpool fan.
“I told him we can visit Anfield because it is close to Manchester. He then ran to his phone and called his best friend and cousins to give them the great news.”
Mr Hendricks added: “I can never forget that when he was about 5-years-old he came to me and said ‘dad if I get an opportunity to play in England can I go?’ My answer to him was never, you can play soccer in Cape Town and your family will support you on the line. No need to travel and be away from your family. Now the opportunity has presented itself, my answer changed due to the fact that I can see how passionate he is about soccer. He really lives for soccer. In today’s society parents try to protect their kids as much as possible and by doing that, kids of today miss out on playing outside after school with friends before sunset,” said Mr Hendricks.
“Since Niyaaz has been playing for Stephanian’s Football Club he interacts with his peers, learnt discipline and teamwork.”
Despite the good news that these youngsters were given the opportunity to go overseas the lack of finance could prevent them from going.
Mr Hendricks said they need
R30 000 for each boy. “Soccer kits are being manufactured and will be delivered by March 20. A sponsor would be awesome for soccer kits and for food and beverages for our boys to stay in Manchester,” he said.
There are 20 children from Grassy Park, Lotus River, Ottery, Strandfontein, and surrounds.
“Parents and coaches had several fund-raising events and raised about R160 000 which were split among our touring boys. As parents we hosted our own fund-raisers to try and cover the shortfall. We still have one or two parents who still need to raise a bit more funds. I am extremely proud of the parents who stuck to this and made this dream possible for our kids. Stephanian Ottery under-12 makes history as the first team in our 96-year history to tour internationally,” he said.
Ottery resident Jamian Minnies, 16, was sent to a trial from Voortrekker High and from there he was selected to go on tour to Gauteng with SASFA. Then after the tour he got a call-up to join them on the tour to Dubai and Manchester due to his performances on the Gauteng
Jamian said he felt mixed emotions when he found out that he was selected. “I couldn’t believe it as I am the first one in my family going overseas.”
Jamian started playing soccer at the age of 5, but joined a club at age 6 and since then I” didn’t stop playing. I play centre back but I’m an all-round player as well.”
He said his soccer star is Virgil van Djik, defender at Liverpool.
If you want to assist in making their dream come true, contact Noeraan Hendricks on 083 281 7829 or search for Niyaaz Hendricks on BackaBuddy.
If you want to help Jamian contact his mother Fiona on 079 333 9149 or Sasfa on 021 703 2227 or 082 629 4810.