Gugulethu’s Belinda Kings Football Academy has left their mark on the community with scouts taking note of the young talent that has been nurtured there over the years.
The team was founded in 2018 by tour guide and father of four, Sibusiso Nkosi, as a means to keep boys off the streets.
During the pandemic it incorporated an academic element to it as Nkosi turned his double garage into a clubhouse in 2020.
He had time on his hands, so he called his children to the garage to help them with mathematics before they forgot what they had learnt at school while being forced to stay at home during the lockdown.
A couple of days down the line, more of their football mates begin to join in the new clubhouse.
Youth coming from as far as Nyanga and Manenberg began to join in from the age of nine and up.
The teammates study and play together. All the assistance Belinda Kings Football Academy needs to grow comes from Nkosi, the parents, community youth champions and voluntary donors.
The team was named after now retired social worker and former prison warder at Pollsmoor Prison, Belinda Kene.
In 2020, they came back with trophies from all the competitions they participated in.
Professional clubs with academies began to take note of this new found gem in Gugulethu.
In the Engen Knockout Cup of 2021 and 2022, two youngsters, Vuyolwethu Andrease and Wandile Tyiwa, made their debuts for Hellenic Football Club. One is a winger and the other an attacking midfielder.
They made a huge impression. Scouts began to contact Nkosi. A few more boys from the Kings were called up to academies of Cape Town Spurs and Ubuntu Football Academy. PSL sides, Cape Town City, Stellenbosch and Royal AM’s juniors began to show interest.
Belinda Kings also have young girls that train with the boys in their off season. Noxolo Cesane got called up to play for the University of the Western Cape. When UWC prepares for their Hollywoodbets league games, they play friendly games against the Kings. An institution in the United States of America signed her twin sister Sinoxolo Cesane. Sinoxolo won the Africa Cup of Nations with coach Desiree Ellis and Banyana Banyana last year.
Under-12 footballer, Ahlumile Bashman said he plays the central midfield role at Cape Town Spurs.
“Kumnandi kakhulu udlala apha. Ikhompetishini ayikho tafu kanjalo,“ he said.
Cape Town Spurs’ under-16 attacking midfielder, Hlumani Lupuwana said he has been exposed to new drills to improve his game.
“Ukudlalela iCape Town Spurs kumnandi ngoba sifunda izinto ezifana ne-shooting nezinye idrills ezintsha,” he said.
Hlumani is confident they are going to win the Bayview FC under-16 and Kapstadt FC junior tournaments this year.
“Thina kule season since kukho itournament ezinkulu ezifana ne Bayview ndizibona siyiwina,” he said.
Chairman, Nkosi said initially the Belinda Kings programme was meant to be a bridge for the youth to get into professional settings.
“We are reaching our dream of getting our youth exposed to all of these opportunities. We now have a clubhouse that host boys from as far as Johannesburg, Durban and the Eastern Cape.
“To see the passion and hunger from the boys, to try and balance their education and sport, brings a very decorated success. We are exposing ourselves to professional teams and expanding new international relationships for the academy to reach a professional level to develop the youth,” he said.