Yesterday FNB celebrated five years of successfully developing and nurturing young gifted football playing boys and girls from grassroots level, to Under 13 and Under 15, through its FNB Football First Programme. The programme was founded as a legacy project following FNB’s involvement in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Since its inception in 2010, the programme has attracted over 29 000 young football players from 39 schools across five regions, Thohoyandou, George, Mthatha, Pietermaritzburg and Kimberley every year.
These young aspiring football enthusiasts are trained at artificial pitches specially created for the programme and comprises of 660 coaching clinics that run for 44 weeks, with each region completing an average of 132 sessions a year. The youngsters are trained by coaches selected in collaboration with SAFA and they undergo annual refresher courses to maintain and develop their skills.
Faye Mfikwe, Chief Marketing Officer at FNB, commended the FNB Football First Programme for the significant contribution it has made in opening up opportunities for talented young boys and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Programmes of this calibre not only uplift communities, but have the potential to help South Africa produce the next generation of talented football players.”
Prominent soccer teams have scouted over 30 talented youngsters who have come through the ranks of the FNB Football First Programme. Some of these players are now playing in National First Division (NDF) teams, with good prospects of progressing to the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
For example, the talented Thabelo Mulaudzi, a product of the FNB Football First Programme, spent four years in the Supersport academy and has recently graduated to play for the National First Division (NFD) team, Black Leopards.
Mfikwe says the programme has attained an exceptional reputation as a grassroots development initiative and has enabled FNB to develop positive relationships with SAFA national selectors and PSL academy team coaches, and they use the programme as one of their major talent scouting platforms.
“We are tremendously proud to be part of an initiative that enables sports development in the country. FNB will continue to empower South Africa’s youth through sports and we are delighted to see young people getting great exposure by actively showcasing their talents,” says Mfikwe.
Each year, the FNB Football First Programme selects the best players from regional tournaments to represent their region during an annual festival held in Johannesburg, where scouts get the opportunity to identify talented players.
The 2016 winners of the annual FNB Football First festival are Pietermaritzburg boys and Mthatha girls.