Hellenic FC midfielder Luka September, has been included in the Camps Bay-based under-14 Rainbow Team, which will compete at the Gothia Cup in Sweden, in July.
The youngster said he became part of the Rainbow Team in February, when he was approached by coach Anees Abbas.
“I had to do an interview first to meet the owner who started the Rainbow Team. We met in town and her name is Pernilla Landstedt. I was quite nervous as I am more comfortable on the ball than doing talking.
“My mom went with me and it was really fine. Ms Landstedt is great and knows a lot about soccer. She is from Sweden that is how she started this team to go to Gothenburg to play in the Gothia Cup – it is the largest international youth tournament,” he said.
And, with teams from 80 nations taking part in the competition, the tournament is certainly among the biggest of its kind.
A Grade 8 pupil at Parklands College, Luka said he plans to do his best, have fun and to learn from the experience.
Abbas, who also spearheads the Legends Soccer School, in Camps Bay, said the Rainbow Team was established about two years ago with the aim of bringing together children from different background.
This, he said, resulted in each youngster bringing in a unique skill to the group. Abbas said the under-14 squad that took part in last year’s competition finished in the top 64 out of 284 teams in their age group.
And, he said, last year was more of a learning experience for the side as they tried to figure out how things were done on that side.
Now that they have been there, he said the plan was to get closer to the top 20 or even the top 10 this time around. He said they will take the strongest possible squad with them.
“We have a large pool of players from different backgrounds, from Woodstock, Khayelitsha, Mandela Park, Imizamo Yethu and other areas. So, we were able to select our squad of 15 from that pool. We are convinced they will make us proud,” he said.
Abbas described Luka as one of their hardest working players who had an ability to change the pace of the game.
“He is an incredible talent with an excellent football brain.
“He’s also well-mannered and his discipline levels are second to none. As a defensive midfielder his job is to stop the opposition’s attacks, and he does that with precision,” said Abbas.
He said their preparations for the tournament have been going well and the players are looking sharper. Abbas said it was also important not to over-work the players.
“Having said that, however, the boys are responding well to our training methods.
“In fact, they might have been young but the fact of the matter is that they have played a lot of football in the past year or two. So, we expect them to use that experience productively come July,” said Abbas. Almost a million players have participated in the tournament since it started in 1975. And, Luka and his teammates’ names will be there soon.