Dutch football legend on the search for raw talent in Gugulethu

Former Netherlands World Cup player and Feyenoord footballer, Theo De Jong. Picture: Lonwabo Marele

A successful collaboration between a primary school, soccer club, netball club and an academy, has attracted a World Cup player with the Netherlands national team to scout for talent in Gugulethu.

At least 300 young boys and girls, as well as coaches, were treated to a seven-day sports and life-skills clinic at the NY14 sports complex, in Gugulethu, last week.

Luzuko Primary School, United Aces Football Club, United Aces Netball Club and the Community Sports Development Academy (CSDA) are involved in the partnership which saw Dutch football legend and international scout, Theodorus Jacob de Jong being invited to impart knowledge while scouting young footballers.

Founding member of the CSDA, Andile Magqwaka said three years ago they sat down as a community, discussed all of the issues faced by the society, and found that the solutions are possible by developing the youth through sport.

Magqwaka coached the late Bafana Bafana player, Anele Ngcongca when he was still a young player at United Aces. He said the youngsters are able to look up to him because he turned his life around through sport and managed to buy a house for his mother.

“We are not only grooming Ronaldinho’s and Ronaldo’s here, but we are grooming doctors, leaders and heroes. We call it the Community Sports Development Academy because it is not only for Gugulethu but for Khayelitsha, Langa and other communities,” said Magqwaka.

Community stalwart and former United Aces player, Mongameli “Maestro” Nkwandla, said the playground has improved immensely since their playing days of 1972.

“When we kicked the ball, it used to land in a house nearby or break a window and the ball was taken away. But we see now our grandchildren have received a good development ground thanks to the support from the academy,” he said.

Parent of United Aces player Lisolenkosi; Zolina Ngejane said her son started playing for the club from under-8 and he is now a part of the under-14 setup as a goalkeeper.

“Usually every weekend they have games and as parents we come to watch them play. It is good that when we arrived today there were talent scouts. This gives them confidence and it makes us happy as parents to see their discipline, knowing they are safe on the field,” she said.

De Jong played in the 1974 Fifa World Cup final against West Germany in Munich, alongside Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff and Ajax Amsterdam legend Arie Haan.

United Aces under-14 player Qhamani Jonas getting advice and a pat on the head from coach Andile Magqwaka. Picture: Lonwabo Marele

He has coached the national teams of Cameroon, China Albania and Nigeria premier league side, Ikorodu United.

“I’m here doing some scouting and looking for a big talent while giving some advice to coaches. When there is a big talent we all hope I can interest the people in Holland and Europe and make the connection between them and the players. Most of the time there are hardly any attackers in Europe. We see raw talent that can be groomed,” he said.

“Soccer is a hobby, enjoy training, enjoy playing, stay disciplined and have fun,” said De Jong.

United Aces under-16 footballer, Sesona Goba in their light blue kit, attacking the midfield. Picture: Lonwabo Marele
United Aces Netball Club players, from left, Latita Ndikho, Milani Jacobs, Omhle Ngalwana and Vuvu Vooi. Picture: Lonwabo Marele
Nyanga’s Thembisa Netball Club’s Thina Ndevu on the counter-attack, supported by her teammates, Mbali MacKenzie with the bandage, wing defence Neliswa Dangala and goal defence Uzile Gantsho. Picture: Lonwabo Marele