His hard work and efforts to get noticed at recent international trials has paid off for 17-year-old Jermaine Mentoor who has left South Africa to follow his soccer dreams.
Last year in March, Mentoor participated in local trials he saw advertised on social media. The trials were live streamed to America and Mentoor was one of 19 boys from South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe who were selected to participate in a soccer showcase in Florida in July last year, the end goal was a scholarship to play and study in the USA.
Around 70 boys participated in the Africa Showcase, and of the 19 who were selected, Mentoor was successful in getting the scholarship and left to Florida on Wednesday 16 January.
“I heard the news in November. There was a lot of paper work that I needed to do. I had to make sure my education was up to standard. I use finish my first two years there to finish high school and then I will finish college there too. I need to then decide what I want to study,” says Mentoor.
“I am very excited. I will be playing for the school team, The Mustangs. Your marks must be up to standard to play soccer there. You must also have good time management.”
He had a sleepless night before leaving, joking about his nerves.
“I would like to do soccer as a career, but I do want to become a chef or fireman,” he says.The school he will be attending is a science school, dealing with robotics and other science subjects.
Mentoor from Strandfontein, was a learner at Muizenberg High School and started his soccer career at the age of four-years-old.
“My family says I liked playing with a ball when I was a baby,” says Mentoor.
“When he started to walk he took a liking to a ball and it never stopped. My rear windows have been double plated because they were all kicked broken. That is when we enrolled him at Strandfontein AFC,” says his father Jomosnè.
From the first trials, he says he has learnt valuable lessons about the sport.
“I would not say it was very challenging, but I learnt so much. I took home that I need to work hard toward what I want in the future. In America, they are very focused on school. Their training is a lot different than here. Their soccer training is very intense,” says Jermaine who adds he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I have to do everything for myself now. There will be no parents there to help me. I need to become independent. I have to work hard at soccer so that I can be scouted. You never know who is watching,” continues Jermaine.
“There are many scouts in the USA because this is a fairly new sport on school level in USA,” says Jomosnè.
“My next dream is to play at the next world cup in five years. That is the next step for me,” says Jermaine.