Two years ago Dejean Ah Shene, from Ocean View, was converted from a centre-forward into a goalkeeper for Ubuntu Football Academy’s junior sides.
The 16-year-old had the physique, scored a couple of goals, but was slightly slow for a centre-forward.
He played in the B-team and Ubuntu were short of a goalkeeper in the A-team. Coach Casey Prince and his management team converted him into a goalkeeper to fill the gap.
A couple of years later, the Grade-11 pupil received his national under-17 colours.
This past weekend, Dejean walked away with three trophies, including the goalkeeper of the tournament, as well as the best player of the tournament.
Throughout the six games Ubuntu Football Academy played in the Engen Knockout Challenge at Langa Stadium, Dejean conceded only one goal. The goal came as a penalty against SSS Academy in the group stages.
During the Engen Knockout Challenge final between Ubuntu Academy and Cape Town City, Dejean was vocal, his ball delivery was pinpoint-accurate and won all the high balls in his territory.
“In every game I used my strengths as part of helping my team and I. And with me getting the award I know that it did not go unnoticed. I was working hard on training in preparation for the Engen Knockout and eventually it did pay off. I just tried to give my team 100% effort in areas that I know I am good at, which is collecting high balls and distributing the ball,” he said.
The lanky Dejean said he was motivated to lift the trophy that his fellow teammates lifted in 2019.
“Being crowned the champions again is an amazing feeling. I could see that before the tournament started our whole team was eager to win the trophy. The pressure was on us as well, because our older brothers won the tournament in 2019. I think that we deserve the trophy because we stuck together as a team and our unity was just too strong,” he said.
“I want to say that, we just need to stick together as a family like we always do. Work hard and hold each other accountable, because together we are stronger. And in my opinion I think we are the strongest family,” said Dejean.
The Ubuntu side retained their unbeaten streak in the Engen Knockout during the repeat of the 2019 final on Sunday. They beat Cape Town City 1-0 in the final after a late second-half goal by striker, Enrique Jacobs.
Coach Prince said Dejean’s hard work off the field was evident in the tournament. “I’m very excited for him. His intense training has helped him to improve as a goalkeeper. He has grown in confidence since he decided to be a top goalkeeper,” said Prince.
“The tournament was special for the boys. They kept up the family name so to speak. After the tournament they said they had so much fun, they enjoyed it,” said Prince.
Prince said they will rest and get back in training as they have two weeks of tournaments to prepare for, including an under-16 tournament hosted by Bayview and the Coke Cup under-18 semi-finals this coming weekend.