Brian Baloyi in action during one of the LaLiga Fives Futbol events earlier this year. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Brian Baloyi has joined the RCD Espanyol Academy in Johannesburg as goalkeeping coach.
This follows the launch of the youth development institution in Johannesburg by the LaLiga club last weekend.
Baloyi, who also played for Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns during his illustrious career, said he was excited about what the academy could achieve for South African football.
The 48-year-old said:
The interest in the Espanyol academy has been incredible. We welcome highly qualified and talented young people from all walks of life. This is the first step of many to come.
“Personally, being involved in the academy of a LaLiga club is a big thing and a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. It’s great, a real honour. Especially since one of my Goalkeeping icons, Cameroonian Thomas N’kono, is a former Espanyol player and is involved in the club’s goalkeeping department,” Baloyi said.
“He has helped to provide many opportunities for young Cameroon goalkeepers and I can’t wait to go to Spain to meet him. There are many things I can learn from him and I also hope to develop young talents like him. I can’t wait and can’t wait for this academy to really get going.
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Meanwhile, the new talent recruitment competitions for the academy from April 23 to May 1 attracted more than 5,000 boys and girls – from under-8s to under-19s.
The academy is the first from a LaLiga club to be based in South Africa. The project is a partnership with IberCup, an expert in international youth football development. He has facilitated LaLiga coaching camps across the country as well as the IberCup international youth football tournament.
Some of the hopefuls who attended trials at the RCD Espanyol Academy in Johannesburg over the past two weekends. Photo: provided
Michael Bender, CEO of RCD Espanyol Academy Johannesburg and Ibercup SA, said: “The support from players and parents has been overwhelming and a complete eye opener for us. We had players from Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Free State, and as far away as Lesotho, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.
The talent pool was beyond exceptional and we sincerely believe that given the remainder of this year to develop talent, we will be in a strong position to compete as an academy at the Ibercup in Portugal and the annual tournament of RCD Espanyol and make South Africa proud. .
“With over 5,000 players in the trial phase, it proves that this type of initiative is desperately needed in South Africa.”
Albert Saus, RCD Espanyol’s international projects manager, was impressed with the turnout of the youngsters who descended on the grounds of St Stithians College in Sandton.
“The early days are a clear example of the club’s impact in the country and the potential of this academy in Johannesburg. We will continue to do everything on our side to consolidate this project and ensure its success,” Saus said.
A major problem the coaches faced was providing the resources to underprivileged players to attend tryouts.
The Internet service provider Vumatel, main partner of the academy, offers a scholarship program that will allow a large number of players to realize their dreams.
“We understand the challenges faced by many of these talented children who, while fully deserving of this opportunity, simply do not have access to the funding or resources to make their dreams a reality. We are proud to allow children from all over South Africa and Africa to participate in this premier international youth football tournament. We look forward to seeing the long-term positive impact of our ongoing partnership continue,” said Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vumatel.