Football stars of old aim to find the football stars of the future on the playing fields of Gauteng schools.
Some of the country's football greats, who played from the 1960s right up to the 1980s, will traverse the province, identifying and nurturing talent in schools around Johannesburg and the rest of the province.
"Our aim is to develop communities in Gauteng through football. We want to identify talent in youngsters - whether poor or rich - to play in games like the Olympics in 2012 and the World Cup in 2014," said Brian "Stopper" Tlale, the chairperson of South African Soccer Legends.
Tlale, together with 77 football legends, including Trott Moloto, Phil Venter, Patson Banda and Zero Johnson, were at the presidential guest house in Tshwane on Saturday, 17 January to update Motlanthe on the talent identification initiative.
Speaking to the football heroes of old, Motlanthe said he was inspired to be among generations of football legends. Football could only benefit from the initiative, he said.
"This meeting gives us great inspiration to develop football, especially at schools, as we get ready to host the 2010 World Cup. But we must note that the World Cup is only a milestone in a long journey to make South Africa a football powerhouse."
Tlale said the programme would start on Tuesday, 20 January and already scores of schools in all the six regions of the province had shown interest. "All schools want to be the first to host the soccer legends. We will be visiting 60 schools in this pilot project, mentoring kids as young as six years old."
Once talent has been identified, the youngsters will be placed in football academies where they will compete for places in some of the country's top football teams and, ultimately, the national team.
Tlale said the football legends were working with the South African Football Association (Safa) and FIFA, the world football governing body, to develop football talent in the country.
As well as ball skills, a life skills course would be taught to youngsters, according to Tlale, who explained that most top football players in South Africa could not handle fame, which led to wayward behaviour and, consequently, their downfall.
"We are working with the University of Johannesburg to develop a curriculum on life skills specially designed for football players. The university will offer a National Certificate on life skills."
Johannesburg, which will host the opening ceremony and opening and final matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, has already struck a deal with the legends not only to develop young talent in the city but to act as its ambassadors.
According to the City's 2010 unit, 22 football legends living in Johannesburg will be chosen to become its 2010 ambassadors. The legends will appear at 2010-related events organised by the City.
They will perform certain functions and will appear with Executive Mayor Amos Masondo at events such as 2010 media briefings, marketing campaigns and the unveiling of 2010 projects.
"These soccer legends will become the face of the City in the build up to and during the two tournaments as well as other 2010-related ... events like Football for Hope," says Linda Ngwenya, the director of the City's 2010 unit.
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