Dama Soccer Academy recently unveiled its new football kits as they gear up for the new MTC HopSol Football season in 2024.
Dama performed exceptionally well in the MTC HopSol Youth League this season, accomplishing results that read better than those of last season.
Coach Silas Shimakeleni said they looked at the just-ended season and decided to reward the boys for their milestone achievements this year.
“The milestone was to make it to the knockout rounds – and some of the groups exceeded that milestone, and the tournament performances only added more to the achievements,” he said.
He noted that the academy produced good results, especially against well-established opponents, such as Ramblers, SKW, DTS, AFCA and Riverheights FA.
“We did not shy away or give them respect in football terms on the field. We won and lost some of the games, but the aim was to compete without fear and prove ourselves. Lastly, we got the boys drilled into simple football skills and tactics, especially at the U13 level – and they took it on well,” Shimakeleni said.
The academy currently has three age groups in its structures, namely U13, U15 and U/17; however, they are planning on introducing U11 and U19 in 2024.
“This was our third year in existence; however, this was our second season in the MTC HopSol Youth League. We have been progressing well, especially over the past two years, as we have seen our academy become competitive while also improving talent identification and recruitment,” he reasoned.
The academy’s U/17 striker, Tobias Sheehama, said it was a tough campaign, where they beat teams they did not expect to beat while also losing to teams they underestimated.
“However, we are ready for next year to come back stronger with a better mentality to compete for top honours. I found the league also tough; sometimes I missed games through injury or sometimes I came from the bench. But this did not stop me because the competition for starting positions got tougher as the season went on,” Sheehama said.
The U/17 coach, Pienaar Haitenge, said he was delighted to have joined DSA this year and dived into the campaign that saw them lose 5-0 in their first game.
“We used that game to propel ourselves onto the knockout stage. I am proud of the results we got against some of the big teams, like the finalists, Rambler A, whom we beat convincingly in the group stage, as well as AFCA B. I am, however, not happy with the discipline of the boys this year; we got four or five red cards for dissent and also for unsportsmanship behaviour.
“This is not acceptable, especially given the fact that this is development football. We aim to develop and identify talent at this level. We have taken internal measures to make sure these incidents do not happen again. But overall, our performance was satisfactory, and we could have done better,” he said.
Shimakeleni, who doubles as the operations manager and coach for the U/15, felt this was one of the most competitive U/15 seasons yet. DTS won their age group, but a lot of teams came out and made it a very competitive age this year.
“Our U15s only lost 2 games throughout the campaign, including the group stage, which shows the level of football we are at this point. The boys rallied as a group; they adapted and learned their strengths and weaknesses as a team, and this made it easier for me not to get too agitated. I am also happy with the discipline we maintained throughout the campaign because we did not receive any red cards and recorded a few yellow cards. We want the boys to develop calm heads.”
The academy aims to export players from the academy to Europe shortly; they are working on the modalities in that regard.
They currently have 70 registered boys; however, with the introduction of the two new age groups, they are looking at having 90 to 120 boys across all the age groups.
The academy acknowledged the role played by all the stakeholders, including the organisers, the sponsors of the league, individual academies and parents.