Ke Yona dream beyond the pitch

2017 Nedbank Ke Yona Team graduate – Bongani Sam during the 2017 Ke Yona Challenge at the Makhulong Stadium, Johannesburg

For over five years, Nedbank has been changing the way people see football development and the identification of talent in South Africa through the Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search.

Since its inception, the talent identification program has transformed the lives of thousands of young men from across the country, and has rightfully earned its spot as one of the most effective and successful ways of unearthing the country’s top talent.

The 2018 edition of the Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search has been no different, attracting interest from over 17 000 young hopefuls nationwide. Kicking-off in 2014 Ke Yona graduate Aubrey Modiba’s hometown of Polokwane, the first try-outs for 2018 took place at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium on the 27th of April. With just under 400 trialists in attendance, the try-outs were preluded by an official multi-purpose sports court handover by the Nedbank Sports Trust to Modiba’s Primary School in Matshelapata.

Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein was next to host the Free State leg of the try-outs on the 29th of April and saw close to 300 participants trial for a chance to be the next Ke Yona star. Eastern Cape followed suite on the 1st of April as East London played first time host of the Ke Yona try-outs, where the team selectors had to watch about 300 talented hopefuls.

The number of trialists continued to increase at each venue , as the Western Cape saw close to 400 participants make their way to the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on the 13th of May. As with every year, over 400 budding youngsters attended the Kwa-Zulu Natal try-outs at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on the 26th of May. The last stop for the 2018 Nedbank Ke Yona Team try-outs was Gauteng on the 2nd of June, where the Rand Stadium was used to host around 550 future footballing stars.

For each of the try-outs, young hopefuls between the ages of 18 – 23 would be seen making their way to the various stadiums from as early as 04:00 am in the morning. It is this very same determination that saw the likes of 2017 graduate and Highlands Park left-back, Bongani Sam secure himself a place in the Nedbank Ke Yona Team.

“I woke up very early and I took a taxi from my home in Motherwell to the Isaac Wolfson stadium, the try-outs are in winter and it was still quite dark when I left my home. I wanted to arrive early because I knew it was going to be full, but I was also anxious to showcase my talent and hence I made my way there early. Being a part of the Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search has proven to be a life-changing opportunity for me, and my advice to those who make it, is to work hard and give it their all,” said the 20-year old speedster.

“This is only the beginning for me and I hope to achieve more and follow in the footsteps of Aubrey Modiba who has proven that the lessons we have been taught during the Ke Yona Search, go well beyond football as he recently donated a sports centre to his community. Those are the kind of things that I dream to do for my community in Eastern Cape and hopefully I will be able to do so in due time,” concluded an optimistic Sam.

The Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search goes beyond developing unearthed talent by providing numerous platforms that are designed to assist players in managing their finances, health and fitness as well as career guidance to ensure that players are well informed when making decisions about their future.

”As a bank that is focused on providing sustainable solutions, we understand that all talent needs to be nurtured. As such, we have developed a programme that aspires to show both the players and the community at large how to manage and take control of not only their finances, but to give back to their communities as well. Aubrey Modiba, for example, is a great inspiration and has proven to many youngsters that dreams come true and that, just like the wonderful game of football, handling money is about setting goals for yourself and working hard to achieve them.” said Nedbank Football Sponsorships Manager, Tutu Skosana.

With the bootcamp 48 scheduled for the 15th – 18th of June at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria , the journey to Ke Yona glory beckons as the Team Selectors; Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, Mike Mangena and Khabo Zondo along with a strong technical team are tasked with uprooting, developing and bringing together a team of ambitious young talented players from across the country.