Defender Joel Vember was chosen to be part of Athlone-based Trinity Spurs FC’s under-18 soccer squad which will tour England later this year.
The left-footed player has been in phenomenal form this season and also earned himself a spot in the South African School’s Football Association (SASFA) under-18 Western Cape team.
His mother, Anthea, said Joel is excited about lacing up in London – where they’ll be housed at Woodcote High School.
Trinity Spurs will play three high performance schools and professional academies during their tour, and players will get the opportunity to impress scouts and possibly land a contract.
“I found out about the trip at the start of the year,” said Joel, a Grade 10 pupil at the Cape Mission Education Service School in Bridgetown.
“Our principal, Nathan Ramedies – who’s also our club coach – called my parents to find out if I’m interested. And, of course, I did not hesitate at the opportunity.”
“We depart for our two-week trip in October, and I’m hoping that one of the scouts will be impressed by me. Our coach said we’ll be training and playing every day.
“This will be my first time travelling out of the country, so I’m very excited and already having sleepless nights.
“I don’t know what to expect once we’re there.
“All I know about England is that they are good at football,” he said.
Joel started playing soccer as a five-year-old for Kenpark United.
His brother Zack, 10, followed in his footsteps and plays for Kenpark’s under-12 side.
Last year, his Kenpark team were runners-up in the under-18 Premier League. And, a few seasons back, he was part of their under-13 squad that won the Strandfontein junior tournament.
“I moved to Trinity Spurs this season because it was a pre-requisite that I play for them to be part of the touring squad.
“Earlier this month, I also made the Sasfa under-18 WC team and we played two matches, in Manenberg. It’s all starting to happen now and I’m excited about what’s still to come in the future,” he said.
Trinity Spurs FC are currently at the top of the under-17 Division Two league, at the Cape Town Tygerberg Football Association (CTTFA). They’ve won six of their nine matches and lost one.
Anthea said everything is starting to fall into place for Joel, and that he will get the chance to live out his dream of playing abroad.
“It’s a lot happening in one year. Within a space of two weeks he played for the school in Heideveld, and was then told to attend the WC trials.
“Prior to this, coaches would overlook him. He would sit on the bench and not even get a chance to try out for the board trials.
“But, he never gave up and kept working hard,” she said.
Anthea said one afternoon she received a text message from the school, asking her to come in urgently for a meeting. Initially she thought Joel had done something wrong, instead, they got the good news that he will be going on tour.
“His father went to meet Mr Ramedies where he gave the news about the tour and a breakdown of the funds required.
“My husband told me to wait until I got home to tell Joel together.
“When we got home, Joel’s friend took forever to leave, and we had to ask him to leave because we were having a family meeting.
“At that point, we sat Joel down and told him the school requested to see us – his face dropped. We handed him the letter and his eyes widened with excitement as he read it,” said Anthea.
Despite having ambitions of playing professional soccer for Ajax Cape Town, or landing a pro contract while on tour, young Joel also enjoys being in the kitchen and wants to become a chef.
“When I finish school I’d like to study to become a chef because I love cooking. My favourite thing to make is muffins. And, I also help my mother in the kitchen with cooking at times – even if I’m just stirring the pot or tasting.
“I’m almost ready for my trip and still have to put in a lot more work.
“Also, I still need to raise some more funds,” said Joel.
* If you’d like to help, call Anthea on 079 898 8788.