From 43 players representing 33 countries, five young amateur footballers, including a South African, were selected to join the Nike Academy as the Nike Chance Final Showcase played out at St George’s Park – the English Football Association’s national football centre of excellence – in the United Kingdom, this weekend.
17-year old South African mid-fielder, Waylan Rooi; New Zealander mid-fielder, Dylan Burns; Brasilian defender, Bruno Cavas; England left mid-fielder, Aiden Austin and goal-keeper, Joel Drommel from the Netherlands, all impressed this weekend to earn their place at the prestigious Nike Academy.
Jimmy Gilligan, Head Coach at the Nike Academy and Tom Cleverley, Manchester United and England midfielder delivered this news to the five players.
On delivering the decision to the winners, Jimmy Gilligan said: “These players have done extremely well. I truly believe we have found some talent this weekend that will enhance the Nike Academy squad even further and I am sure some of these boys have the talent to go on and earn professional contracts.”
Says Gilligan on Waylan Rooi’s selection: ”Waylan is a consistent player, and really stood out from day one. He exemplifies raw talent, and we are excited about this as it offers our coaching team an opportunity to further develop him into a truly stand-out player.”
“Waylan will embark on an intense three-month programme at the Nike Academy, where we will push him every day. He has an amazing personality and attitude to deal with the mental, emotional and physical toughness of playing in the UK, and has the potential to become a phenomenal footballer.”
Gilligan continued to praise Waylan, likening him to Reyaad Pieterse – the first South African to join the Nike Academy in the debut of the Nike Chance 2010/2011 season.
Tom Cleverley, Manchester United and England midfielder commented: “It is not easy to come here from another country and impress all the coaching staff in three days, but from what the coaches tell me, the players really rose to the challenge and made the decision process very difficult for the coaches.”
The players will now join the Nike Academy based at St George’s Park and experience world-class facilities, elite coaching and input from nutritionists, psychologists and fitness trainers. They will train under the watchful eye of club coaches and elite scouts with the chance to potentially secure a professional contract.
During the showcase weekend the young footballers undertook an intensive three day performance and character evaluation under the scrutiny of the Nike Academy staff and guest coaches including Brasilian youth coach Eduardo Oliveira and John Marshall, England senior men’s scout. Performance testing included medicals, small group games, positional coaching and an 11 v 11 match against the current Nike Academy intake.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa and Belgium international striker) also visited the players to answer questions about his journey to becoming a professional footballer.
About The Nike Chance:
Nike Chance is a unique global football talent search that gives young footballers from around the world an opportunity to showcase their skills and improve their game in front of elite coaches and mentors from the top of the sport.
Nike Chance looks for players of all positions including goal keepers, who are recruited through Nike Football social media channels, word of mouth recommendations from local coaches and clubs, pro scouting networks and Nike Football events.
Players are selected based upon a variety of criteria including technical skills and determination, and are invited to participate in local trials. At these local trials, coaches and professional footballers will evaluate the participating talent using criteria such as speed, technique, pitch intelligence and Nike training and conditioning drills.