SPIRIT and SMILES, SHINE in South Africa

While the players recovered from their exertions during Friday night’s comprehensive 3-0 victory over Platinum Stars, several members of the Glory coaching staff joined their counterparts from the Stars in conducting a coaching clinic for local children.

While the players recovered from their exertions during Friday night-s comprehensive 3-0 victory over Platinum Stars, several members of the Glory coaching staff joined their counterparts from the Stars in conducting a coaching clinic for local children.

Team Manager Ian Gillan, Willie McNally and Community and Development Manager Callum Salmon all took lead roles in the session which was attended by several hundred children ranging in age from 3 to 16.

Located some 60kms from Glory-s training base at the Ingwenyama Resort, the venue for the clinic was a remote hilltop upon which a state-of-the-art 3G artificial pitch had been installed as part of FIFA-s Legacy grassroots football funding scheme.

The sweeping, unbroken views across the Kruger National Park and the nearby border with Mozambique were breathtaking, but the Glory coaches had little time to appreciate them once the local youngsters made it onto the pitch.

Their excitement, energy and passion for the game was a pleasure to behold and any language barriers were swiftly broken down once the footballs appeared.

Each of the coaches put their respective groups through a variety of passing, shooting and possession drills before breaking into a series of small-sided games during which the youngsters showcased some sublime balls skills and no lack of aggression in the tackle. That tenacity to regain possession even applied to the coaches who learned the error of dwelling on the ball the painful way.

The children-s enthusiasm was almost tangible and all the more remarkable given that a great many of them were either orphans or were in the care of their grandparents due to their parents having been diagnosed as being HIV positive.

All the coaches agreed that they found the session a humbling experience and one they won-t forget in a hurry.

“It was a privilege to be able to come here today and hopefully give something to these children that they enjoyed and will remember”, said Salmon.

“Their enthusiasm and skill level was fantastic and they were just a joy to work with.”

Those sentiments were shared by Platinum Stars Assistant Goalkeeping Coach Stefan Ekakala.

“I-ve enjoyed every moment of this session today”, he said.

“You could see how much it meant to the kids, some of whom had walked for miles just to get here and join in.

“I-m really grateful to have had the opportunity to come here and work with these kids.”

Having received a t-shirt and cap to mark the occasion, the children enjoyed lunch before serenading the coaches with several note-perfect songs to bring the curtain down on a memorable morning in real style.

Perth Glory-s 2012 pre-season tour of South Africa is proudly sponsored by Kaboko Mining, Okap Ventures, Europcar and managed by prominent South African firm SportUnplugged.