With all 142 players having reported by late Sunday evening, they were taken through their paces today by a team of experienced coaches from Forwardzone led by Orlando Pirates youth coach, Junior Bhengu.
Bhengu, a former midfield player with the defunct Manning Rangers, is among a host of tacticians who will prepare the Under-15 players for the tournament slated to begin on Thursday.
Other coaches at the camp include current Banyana Banyana goalkeeping coach Thomas Nare, former Maroka Swallows and Pirates player Chris Mazibugo, PSL side Bidvest Wits youth Coach Ashley Makhanya, Vodacom League FC Alex coach Caesar Maphala and Lerato Kabamba, an Under-12 and Under-10 youth coach specialist.
“Football is not just about competition on the pitch but also making friends so we merged the players so that they can bond with their colleagues who would otherwise be total strangers,” said Bhengu.
“I am happy with what I have seen with these kids. Our training is designed to try improving them in all areas of the game including defending, pressing the ball in the midfield and attacking,” said Mazibugo who has also worked with Orlando Pirates as a development coach.
Besides the football aspect, the coaches are also generating a physical profile of the players through sports science testing, a first at the camp.
Led by Douglas Rathbone, the programme which also involves an aerobics session, aims at testing the body fat composition of the players, their flexibility, speed and agility among others.
“This physical science test will help us (coaches) know which players need improvement in different areas of their game. A complete player is one who has that explosive power with him, is stable on his feet and can endure long hours of the game and that’s what we are trying to establish,” said Rathbone.
The Monday training session came against the backdrop of an entertaining opening ceremony held on Sunday evening at Union Caterers in Utopia, Pretoria.
The two training sessions in the morning and afternoon saw the teams divided into mixed groups of 14 players each and included improving endurance, dribbling, communicating, pressing, positioning and passing the ball under pressure among others football skills.
On Tuesday, the players with 12 Kenyans among them will go for an excursion at X-Tribes in Heartbeest, Guateng Province.