Three aspiring footballers from South Africa have won an exclusive opportunity to train at Cobham following a week-long development programme run by Chelsea Foundation coaches in Pretoria.

Over 11,000 young men and women participated in the biggest edition of the project to date, which was run in association with one of the club’s official partners Shield, South Africa’s number one deodorant brand.

The programme gave the players a unique chance to train alongside fellow promising talents and ultimately catch the eye of the coaching staff. At the end of the week, the top 25 faced off against a development team from Orlando Pirates FC, which the Johannesburg side narrowly edged 1-0.

Following the game, Amogelang Matebesi, Cassius Spandelel and Thandanani Tshabalala were named winners of the Shield Sbonis’ iDiski competition. As part of their prize, they will each sign a one-year contract to join the Orlando Pirates FC Development team, as well as travel to England for a visit to our state-of-the-art training complex.

Gareth Marshall, senior brand manager of Shield South Africa, praised how the programme had widened its scouting net in 2019. The reach has doubled in size, expanding from five regions to nine, ensuring that all corners of the country are included, and the standard of players has improved as a result.

‘Watching this programme grow in size to what it has become today in Year 3 is amazing,’ he said. ‘Not only has Shield been able to change the lives of these three young men but we have developed a platform to further develop young and hungry football talent in the country.

‘Alongside our partners, we are looking forward to growing in size and providing even more opportunities for South African youth.’

The three winners will travel to London later in the year, where they will receive expert training sessions at top-class facilities, helping them understand what it takes to realise their dreams of becoming a professional footballer.

‘Amogelang, Cassius and Thandanani have all shown tremendous heart and dedication throughout the programme and their commitment to improving their football skills inspires many to take the ultimate challenge head-on,’ said Laurence Griffin, senior development coach with the Chelsea Foundation.

‘I’ve seen remarkable talent over the last three days, and the level of skill and technical ability displayed in South Africa is on par with many across the globe. The players who made it this far should hold their heads high.’

The international arm of the Chelsea Foundation aims to build on our ground-breaking work at home in the UK by passing the ethos of the Foundation to thousands of young people around the world.