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Aspiring Young South African Athletes Train at University of Pretoria

  • Parke Brewer

University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre

As the 2010 FIFA World Cup Continues in South Africa, future football and other aspiring professional sports hopefuls train at a special facility at the University of Pretoria.

New groups of promising future sports champions arrive throughout the year at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre, or hpc.

The top level athletes are in what is called the TuksSport Academies.

These three young teenage footballers train two or three times a day with Tuks. Jacob Mkhize said he is happy with his progress.

"Well, it's been fun," said Jacob Mkhize. "The transition has been fun. It's also been tough. We're pushed, and so far I think I'll become a good footballer if I can stick to the program."

Anees Allie has been at the Tuks academy for three years.

"I hopefully, you know, will become a professional soccer player and maybe get a contract with a big team in Europe, but that's high goals," said Anees Allie. "But for now I'm just hoping to play for the first team here."

The sports grounds at the High Performance Center offer 76 hectares of sports dedicated lands.

There are comfortable living quarters for the athletes, for rest and study.

On a tour around campus one can see a variety of sports going on: There is everything from gymnastics and trampoline, to netball, field hockey, and of course football - or soccer - which is not only played in the day, but also by floodlight in the evening.

Bisso is the head coach of the under-age-11 Tuks football team. He says there are two sections to the Tuks academy at the High Performance Centre.

"We've got the commercial academy, where kids are actually paying to try and play at the club, and then we also have the actual academy itself, where we go all around the country scouting for possibly the next up-and-coming kids," said Bisso. "And they go to the Tuks high performance academy school, where they learn to play football but also study academically."

The academy features a sport science and medical unit that includes a physiological test lab.

Menzi Ngcobo is one of the three biokineticists.

"Basically what happens down here is we collect as much data as we can for the coaches, so the coaches can base their training on those results," said Menzi Ngcobo. "So we tell them where the players are in terms of fitness, and we also make recommendations where they need to be for their sport."

It's all part of South Africa's goal to help build the best sports teams it can for the future.