A TOTAL of 400 enthusiastic pupils braved the rain on February 29 when the Spur Masidlale Programme officially kicked off at the NU2 Stadium.
The programme, which runs over ten weeks, is exclusively for 10 primary schools from Motherwell.
Each of the pupils from Imbasa, Coega, Ikhwezelihle, Enquleni, Zanoxolo, Dumani, Mboniselo, Fumisukoma and Enkwenkwezini received a pair of playing shorts and a soccer jersey.
Former Banyana Banyana captain and programme ambassador Desiree Ellis, together with former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana defender, Patrick Mayo were at the launch.
Ellis encouraged the children to stay in school.
“I am here to motivate and support the kids, most of whom do not have the support at home because their parents have to work,” Ellis said.
“Education is very important. Football can be a 12-year or a one-match career. It is important for kids to find that one thing they are passionate about and pursue it – it does not have to be football.
“But they must at least have matric, which is almost nothing these days. It is important to get education, so that they can always have something to fall back on.”
The schools will participate in a league over 10 weeks – with each week treated as a different leg. Each team is allowed to field seven players and three substitutes aged nine to 13 years. A total of nine games will be played by each team.
The first pilot league was hosted in Sandton in 2009 and was followed by the hugely successful 2010 league in Soweto. The league was expanded to Cape Town in 2011 and to Durban and Motherwell this year.
The winning team from each region – Soweto, Cape Town, Durban and Motherwell – will have a VIP Premier Soccer League (PSL) experience, where they will walk out with the players to the field as mascots and be treated to a special Spur lunch.
Coaches will also attend coaching clinics and receive coaching manuals.
Asive Mbambani, 12, of Mbasa Primary said: “I am happy about this programme. I enjoy playing soccer, but I want to be a scientist when I grow up. I hope our school wins so that we can be mascots.”