Thembisa coach with a big dream for young players

Showing one of the participating teams
One of the participating teams

By Dumisani Hlatswayo

A new soccer team will soon expose and get contracts for young players from Thembisa. You First FC is headed by Ayanda Manana, who wants to help local young players get exposure to professional football.

“What inspired me to found this team is that I wanted to help young stars get contracts in professional leagues like Glad Africa and DSTV Premier League,” said Ayanda. Apart from his soccer team, he runs First Management, a sports agency that manages players.

Ayanda said the onset of COVID-19 brought many changes in the sports fraternity. “Remember, soccer teams were not allowed to play. As a result, players could not train, and their fitness levels dropped significantly. As if that was not enough, soccer players couldn’t participate in any tournaments due to the pandemic,” he recalled.

Ayanda said he runs his team from his pocket, making it difficult for him to grow his club. “Challenges I had to overcome, all have most to do with finance. I had to transport players, buy food and foot the bill for affiliates to participate in the tournaments,” he said.

“Since we play everywhere, for instance, in Soweto, Thokoza and other places. I had to sacrifice money from home,” he added. As fate would have it, Ayanda found much financial relief when he won the coveted OR Tambo tournament, which played in Duduza. After that, his team was on a winning streak, trashing soccer teams in succession. They won the LGBTI tournament, which allowed Ayanda to save money for the upcoming game. “My goal is to see my team competing in a professional league like the Glad Africa League, winning big tournaments, and also getting contracts for young talented players in PSL and overseas teams,” Ayanda said. Ayanda also runs a small business company, Data Systems Management (Pty) Ltd, a BB BEE Level 1 information and communication company.

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