’Plain ballers gear up for trip of a lifetime

Strandfontein AFCs Liam Brown, a member of the Simsport Eagles squad, can hardly wait to pack his bags for England.

Pictures: Fuad Esack

The youngster were selected as part of the Simsport Eagles squad with the rest of the team made up of players from across the city.

Former Santos defender and teacher at Cedar High School, Fagan Muller, who will accompany the players, said they are a group of under-19 and under-16 youngsters.

“The reason for me forming part of this tour I would say was a godsend, just getting a call from Shamieg (McLaurie) who is one of the Simsport ambassadors.

“I’ve played semi-pro and I’ve also had a stint in the National First Division (NFD) with Santos and I was never the best player but always the best teammate. That is the thing I want to carry over to these kids,” he said.

Muller said the experience of travelling outside the country will make the youngsters better people.

“There are very little opportunities in Cape Town at the moment. We see a lot of chiefs and too little Indians, we want to be the Indians that give kids this opportunity,”he said. “It is very costly to send kids there but the experience is really something you cannot buy.

Travelling even as I did when I was in the NFD changed my life.

“It’s about making these boys better people not just better footballers,” he said.

Simsport Eagles coach, Shamieg McLaurie, said a trip like this can change their attitude towards life, education and being focused.

“All of them have a bright future ahead when it comes to sports and education. They are willing to learn, not everyone will make it, that is the reality of life, but they are eager for everything and I’m happy,” he said.

On Monday, the three youngsters played a friendly match against FC Kapstadt’s under-16 team at Hartleyvale, in Observatory. McLaurie said the average age for his squad is 15.

“They are very young. It’s very important when it comes to their age to play against older teams.

It keeps them away from bad habits.

“Our opposition is going to be much taller and much more built (in England) so playing against boys that are much older will help them to develop more,” he said.

“We had a training camp at the weekend with two sessions, so they can get to know each other better.

“We also teach life skills and have educational programmes because you can get injured on the field and you need education,” he said. He said they will also watch Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium on Monday September 6, and they will visit either Old Trafford or Anfield.

“They will receive professional level training and will use all the facilities at Bolton Wanderers,” he said.

To help raise funds, the group will host the Funnie Plain Comedy Show – featuring Carl Weber, Dalin Oliver, Reagen Allen and Altaaf Sayed – to be held at Spine Road High on Friday and Saturday August 24 and 25. Call 078 977 5722.