Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Player Profile: Eddie (a.k.a "Shark")

Name: Edward
D.O.B: 05/05/1988
Position: Right Back
Personal Description: I grew up in Vredendal with my aunt, uncle and brother. My mother died when I was 3. I like running long distance
Favourite Player: Sergio Ramos
When did you join the academy?: 2009
What do you want to do in the future?: To go to young people and encourage them. I've been helped and I want to do the same.
What have you learnt in the Academy so far?:
  • Respect others

  • Strong relationships 

  • Belief in yourself

  • Learning to trust

Eddie has been in the academy for 2 years now and is our star right back. I'd say Eddie is probably one of the fittest players on the team, if not the fittest. His strength is in endurance, as he used to do long distance running, so he always does well in the fitness drills and lasts the 90 minutes in the game. Generally he has a nice touch and good passing, and is also very quick in terms of physical and, more importantly, mental speed so he often makes good decisions quickly. Due to his speed we often see him overlapping on the right wing for Duna to play him in, which is great in terms of his energy, he just needs to work on his crossing a little bit so we can see the final product of his hard work. In terms of his defending, generally Eddie is solid, but sometimes his positioning can be a little off, with him staying too deep or close to the central defender so the long ball into the channel sometimes catches him sleeping. Again, though, due to his speed he always seems to catch up with the attacker and win the ball. His timing in terms of defence is excellent, and you'll often see him intercepting the ball in front of the attacker, and although he's not the biggest or strongest of guys, what he lacks in size he makes up for in effort, so he can definitely go toe-to-toe with the big guys upfront.

Eddie (left) and Loyiso (right) with pro player John Armogam, who visited the academy back in April.
Eddie is definitely a worker when it comes to the games, and due to this he's already gotten 2 man of the match awards this year I think. The players all call him 'shark', because he'll come out of nowhere and bite your ankles to win that ball. I think that nickname is quality because its so fitting to him as a player, and you can see that it eggs him on when one of the guys or one of us coaches belts out 'shaaaark' in training. That's the thing with nicknames in the team, a lot of the time they can be a great motivator and a sign of team spirit, but we always have to be careful as coaches with some of the nicknames given out because sometimes they can be a bit negative without us knowing it. So in his football Eddie is doing really well, and also in his schooling Eddie is excelling at a high level and is looking to continue studying when he gets out.

Eddie next to the team photo wall.
In terms of his faith Eddie is a strong Christian guy. He leads a lot of the services that the boys have on Sundays and is always challenging himself to read new material on Christianity, which is great. The other day we did a life skills session on God, and some guys had a chance to share their testimony, which Eddie did. The question was how has God made a difference in your life, and Eddie answered that God had changed his way of thinking completely. He said that before he knew God he was a coward, always looking after himself and being afraid to speak up, but he said that God has used his weakness to become strong and has changed his behaviour so that he now has no problem speaking up for himself and sharing his views with other people. Its great to see someone being honest about how they've failed in the past and giving the glory to God for their change in behaviour.
In training, probably listening to the wise words of Coach Mikey ;)
I can see that Eddie used to be a 'shy guy', and he still can be a bit quiet at times, but I guess the difference now is that he is not afraid to speak in front of others, and when he does speak it is often something wise and worth saying. One of the verses we used a lot with the guys is James 1.19 ' quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry', and you can definitely see that Eddie is living that out in his life. Eddie also gives a lot of credit to the programme and the people in it to the change in his attitude, especially to Zola, the former captain who was released back in June. At his farewell braai everyone had the chance to say something about Zola and Eddie got up and said the following: I have a respect for you that may look like I'm scared. You taught me to be a man and stand strong. I used to be the 'shy guy'', but you have given me the confidence to stand up and speak for myself.
Shark next to his bed, which as you can see is very neat and tidy.
As you can see Eddie is definitely one of the leaders in the team, due to his good example in all areas of the programme: football, faith and future. He is definitely seen as one of the candidates for the vice-captain role if that role is made official in the coming months, due to his leadership and other qualities. Eddie is an attentive guy, always willing to help out and serve others, and he always gets stuck in with whatever is going on in the programme. If we have visitors it will usually either be him or Loyiso who shows the people around the room and explains the programme, which shows his experience in the academy as well as his confidence and skill as a speaker. Also, often before the games some of the guys will start singing victory songs to rally the players, which is more of a Xhosa tradition, but Eddie (being a Cape Coloured guy) still gets involved and stuck in with the singing and dancing, which shows the kind of guy he is. Eddie recently saw the parole board and was unfortunately refused for another year despite already having done half of his sentence (usually offenders are released on parole after they have done half of their sentence if they have showed good behaviour whilst in prison). This is obviously a shame for him, but on the positive it means that he has another year to keep improving in his football, faith and future, and also means the academy can be blessed with his skills and qualities as a player and a person for another year. So, all in all, Eddie is doing great and we're hoping he can finish strong into the end of the year.
Eddie with former academy captain Mezza, who was released last year and came to visit back in March. 
On a side note, the new hope academy website is now live, where you can view all of the players, coaches, pictures and news about both the Drakenstein and Soweto academy, as well as sponsor individuals in the academy. Its looking very proffesh so check it out at


Monday, 15 August 2011

Player Profile: Duna

Name: Asanda 
D.O.B: 24/04/1987
Position: Right Wing / Centre Forward
Personal Description: I grew up in the Eastern Cape with my grandmother, 2 sisters and 1 brother. I left school at standard 8 when I failed. I like athletics and running.
Favourite Player: Siphiwe Tshabalala
When did you join the academy?: 2009
What do you want to do in the future?: To continue with my studies, to find work and to continue playing soccer.
What have you learnt in the Academy so far?
  • Discipline myself
  • I know what is wrong now
  • I'm feeling prepared for life outside

Duna has been in the academy for 2 years now and is a very talented guy. He's probably one of the best players in the team at the moment, playing on the right wing or up front when we need a bit of pace. That is one of his greatest assets as a player is his speed and fitness, which is largely down to his commitment in the fitness sessions in training. Whenever we do fitness, Duna always seems to be within the guys who finish first and have the quickest recovery time, and you can definitely see it roll over into the games as he will always give you 100% to the last minute. Duna is a fast and skillful winger, with a wicked cross and also great composure in front of goal, which has made him top goalscorer this season despite playing most of his games on the wing.
Duna about to fire in a free-kick in training
He is also a very tricky player, which is great at times but this is also probably his greatest weakness as well because he tries to do unecessary tricks a lot of the time instead of doing the simple pass or lay off. This is quite typical of south african football because the fans love tricks and will celebrate someone getting "nuts'd" more than an actual goal so you can see it in the players mindsets, that they would rather do a skill and embarrass another player than actually play the simple pass or take a shot. Obviously its good to do tricks at times, but it has to be done for a purpose and for the right reasons, which is something we're trying to drill into the boys in training. We're hoping that Duna can play in the Castle League when he gets out (which is the 4th tier of South African football) if not Vodacom (3rd tier) or higher.
Duna getting ready on match-day
It is not just on the pitch that Duna has talent though. He's also a great singer and dancer, always leading the match-day victory songs and putting on performances for visitors. There seems to be a new song every time we go in, so we've had an idea of possibly recording the boys doing their songs and making a CD to use to give to visitors and put on the website etc, which Duna seemed pretty excited about. Last year on family day, (usually a day in November where the families of the players come in to finish off the season before the December break) Duna led a performance which is now affectionately known as "The Duna Show". I've got the video, but it doesn't seem to want to let me upload it at the moment, so for now here's a still photo below of that performance last year. 
Duna (middle) in full swing on "The Duna Show"
Duna is a bit of a joker as well, which is always good for team spirit, we just have to make sure that all the joking around is in good spirit, which is why we always encourage the guys to speak in English so that we know what is being said as well as giving them a chance to practice their language skills. Duna does make me crack up though sometimes, and me and Bully have now started calling him 'Mr Motivator' because of his shinanigans in the fitness sessions. Duna is also one of the guys who we've scouted to be a potential leader in the Hope Academy in our search for a suitable vice-captain now that Zola has left. His experience and his good example on the pitch led us to see him as a good leader, as well as the fact that he is very attentive to us as coaches, is always willing to help and motivate other players (which we've noticed especially since he has been injured recently) and has also never got involved in gangs since he has been inside. He does need to learn to be a bit more thick skinned and humble if he is to take on the vice-captain role, as he can take things too personally at times, but generally he is applying a good attitude to the programme and is showing us that he wants to improve as a player and as a person.
DJ Duna in da house!
In terms of his future, Duna is one of the guys who is doing well in his schooling. He wants to continue his studies when he gets outside, but it seems that he wants to focus a lot of his attention on football. We can help him in this, and he has the potential to go quite far in his football. The only thing that could cause a problem in getting signed is his age, but it is by no means out of reach, as Chris has shown us (ex-Hope Academy player released in January) by currently playing at Castle level with the potential of Vodacom next season, as well as having trials at first and second division clubs. We'll see how he does for the rest of this year, but at the moment Duna is excelling in all areas of the programme and we hope it continues. 
Duna and Jade on family day last November