GELVANDALE teenager Darryn Bamboo left Port Elizabeth bound for Greece last night on a dream trip which will see him take part in a two-week academy trial with well-known professional soccer side Panathinaikos.
Darryn, 17, who is a midfielder at northern areas club Saints, was offered the exciting opportunity after he caught the eye of Greek scouts.
His invitation to the Athens giant is a direct result of Panathinaikos establishing a soccer school of excellence with Saints in February.
A thrilled Darryn said he was honoured to have been afforded the chance to prove his ability.
“I’ve always wanted to play for a big team, but attending trials with one of the biggest teams overseas means the world to me. A lot of opportunities which our parents did not have, and other kids don’t have, are opening for me,” he said yesterday.
He said he was confident and would not be intimidated by big names while on trial. “My fitness level is high and my techniques and skills are improving daily. So I will do my best to get the deal to play for their academy side but it’s up to the scouts to decide about the outcomes of the trials.
“I’m nervous but I’ll be at my best when I get there.”
Darryn started his football career on the streets of Gelvandale but in 2005, when he was 10, he joined the Fairview Rovers club, where he played as a defender.
Two years later, he played for Glenville Celtic and won various tournament titles with the team. A move to the midfield ensured he was able to score a number of goals for the club.
He was then selected to represent the Eastern Cape under-15 side at interprovincial level and eventually played for the junior national side, being chosen as player of the year in 2009.
“I then started to feel that my football career was starting to take off and in 2010 I went to the Stars of Africa football academy in Johannesburg.
“I spent six months with them and then joined Mamelodi Sundowns’ academy for three months before coming back home.”
His father, Donavan Heynson, never expected his son to progress as far as he has. “I remember buying his first pair of soccer boots and he was so excited, because as a little boy he was inspired by the Brazilians’ soccer super star, Ronaldinho.
“We went to all his games as a family and we will support him every step of the way because we are a soccer family,” Heynson said.
He said Darryn’s elder brother, Nathan, also played soccer – for Cape Town side Santos.