Robert Mboneni has been a familiar face within the Vhembe football fraternity for a number of years, more recently acting as a selector for the region’s youth squads. When the FNB Football First Programme was launched in 2011 he was appointed as assistant coach in Thohoyandou.

“I was very excited to become part of the FNB Football First family and seeing the children embrace this opportunity has been amazing.  It is always a highlight to travel to Johannesburg each year with a new group of players to participate in the FNB Football First Festival,” explains Mboneni.

“Football has always been part of my life.  I was captain of the local football association’s men’s team, assisting the coach with strategies during training sessions and matches.  Going into coaching was a natural progression for me,” he adds.

Mboneni admits with a smile that he doesn’t really have other hobbies: “I live and breathe football and watch it whenever I get an opportunity.  Whether it is amateur or professional football, I believe watching as much football as possible is an important part of developing my coaching skills.”

He believes the FNB Football First Programme has changed the lives of the youth in the Vhembe region.

“The training sessions offer them an alternative to a life of crime and substance abuse.  We equip them with more than just football skills by also addressing life skills like teamwork, leadership skills and discipline with every training session,” explains Mboneni.

“We’ve seen players progress to the national under 17 team as well as the Sundowns Academy in recent years because of the FNB Football First Programme.  They are proof that football can open doors to a bright future for these youngsters,” he concludes.