1. Simba, you joined the COPA Coca-Cola team in 2016 as the ambassador for the ‘Which Part Will You Play’ initiative. Please can you take us through what your role entailed?

The COPA Coca--Cola tournament is an awesome initiative which creates a platform to display the talent and brilliance in our country. What I appreciate most about COPA is that it’s a school program which restores the culture of SA sports back to our school system. The school platform comes with that inherent discipline that school provides and also for the learners to appreciate the importance of both sport and academics. As a tournament itself, it provides our youth with a fantastic opportunity to be recognized and become our future heroes of South Africa.

My role as an ambassador was to choose an All-Star team made up of players who would make up a perfect team with each one having exceptional qualities that complement each other. This is a team we have named Which Part Will You Play Team.

2. How was the whole experience for you? From picking your WPWYP team, to working with the different communities across the country, and coaching the all-star team…

The entire experience was amazing as it allows one to interact with some of the greatest people in our country, who are building our communities and serving as unsung heroes and heroines.

It has also been a fulfilling experience in my role as an ambassador to coach the All Star team. This is a part which is really exciting as it has allowed me to impart my football and life experience and knowledge to the budding young players, which provides them an avenue shape their hopes and dreams for the future.

3. What have been some key highlights of the 2016 COPA Coca-Cola campaign for you?

Two key moments for me were really the appreciation received from these youngsters and their parents in the work the entire COPA Coca-Cola team put in helping to hone the raw talent. The result achieved by our talented WPWYP team when they beat a more experienced and developed Bloemfontein Celtic U17 academy side was also a great highlight. That was a really proud moment.  


4. What can we expect from this season’s COPA Coca-Cola U15 Football Tournament and WPWYP All-Star?

I believe this year's tournament will most definitely be bigger and better and of a higher standard than last year’s edition. Schools will want to improve on their performance from last year in order to claim bragging rights come the end of the tournament. I expect that the level of preparations will also be something of interest to note as some of the schools that participated last year, would have taken in some learnings from their shortcomings on and off the field.

5. How important is this phase of U15 when it comes to a young footballer’s development? What did you wish you knew when you were at this stage of your developmental career as a footballer?

Very critical. Starting early is key. Ball control and first touch are some of the basics that are taught at this stage. International star players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do such effortlessly day in and day out is because of the quality development programmes they went through at this Under-15 stage of their development careers.  

Early development in football is the only way to realize your athletic, cognitive, and other natural talent you may have as a youngster which later translates into footballing prowess.

When I was 15, I wish I knew that early perfect and consistent practice is what makes a perfect player a lot sooner and if you develop with these principles from early on then the future ahead is bright.


6. Which part are you playing in the development of football in South Africa?

Ever since I hung up my boots, my focus and purpose has mostly been on giving back, identifying and inspiring a new generation of star footballers to take the baton forward from former players like myself. I had so many learnings from the beautiful game and it would be selfish of me not to share that with the upcoming youngsters to realise their dreams and do better than myself. Most of the charity projects I am involved in are between my hometown in Virginia and in Johannesburg.

7. What are you looking forward to the most from this 2017 edition of COPA Coca-Cola?

New, raw talent, and exciting displays of football; continuing to make a difference in communities around the country and the making of future football stars. I am excited to see what the old and new schools have to offer this season. Lastly, of course I also look forward to meeting the new archetypes that will be our 2017 All-Star team. After all, COPA Coca-Cola wouldn’t be the same without these exciting archetypes waiting to be given a platform to shine and start of the process of building a successful football career.