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Football | National First Division

Jomo Sono © Gallo Images

Cosmos join forces with Benfica



Jomo Cosmos has teamed up with top Portuguese club side Sport Lisboa Benfica to establish a youth soccer project to be known as Jomo-Benfica Soccer Schools.

The teams announced their official partnership on Friday in Johannesburg and unveiled plans to kick start the soccer schools, which will be structured along similar lines as the renowned Benfica academy in Portugal.

As one of the world’s largest, most-equipped academies, the Benfica academy currently boasts of over 5 000 intakes in all the different age groups combined.

According to Cosmos and Benfica officials, the groundbreaking initiative could become operational in the next three months provided all logistical issues are resolved by then.

Benfica’s representative, Miguel Reis said it was an honour to partner with Jomo Sono, whom he described as one of Africa’s greatest legends, stressing that the project will help accelerate soccer growth at youth level in South Africa.

“At Benfica we have a legacy of excellence. The culture of winning is imbibed in our youth right from the onset, but basically, developing raw talent is our primary objective at this time and we’re more than happy to be associated with Jomo Sono in making this happen in South Africa,” he emphasized.

In his own words, Jomo Cosmos owner Jomo Sono, who was bestowed with a Johnny Walker Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, thanked the 24-time Portuguese champions for accepting to partner with Ezenkosi.

He said: “I am indeed proud and excited to announce this soccer development programme for the youths of South Africa and thanks to Sport Lisboa Benfica for making it happen.

He disclosed that six soccer fields have been identified around Johannesburg from where the project will commence, but in the interim, “Cosmos will be giving the government a proposal regarding assistance.”

He advised soccer players on the way forward in their respective careers, saying: “Soccer players must be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, and this programme will assist in making that happen..

He affirmed that the project is bound to be successful and will bear fruit because all hands are on deck to make it a reality.

Furthermore, he stressed the importance of football as a tool to reach out to millions of underprivileged children not only in South Africa but globally, adding that coaches will also be huge beneficiaries on the initiative.

“Soccer is a platform that has helped me to reach out to lots of people and in this case we’re going to reach out to many more kids as we can.”

He closed his speech by reiterating his favourite saying which goes thus: “To win is not everything, but to win is everything.”

Interestingly, Jomo starred for Benfica’s major local rivals, Sporting Lisbon during his illustrious playing career overseas.

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