Kammies has what it takes to be a big, senior player

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Nothing lasts. Winning, joy and success are just fleeting emotions. It comes and goes. The challenge for a young player, as his football career unfolds, is to make consistency the primary objective.

The amazing achievement of the Ajax Cape Town Under-19 squad on their recent European trip has been celebrated. It took a while to take root, though. After they won the first event in Amsterdam - the NextGen Series - there wasn’t all that much fuss despite the fact that the tournament featured top clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven.

The Cape juniors went on to win a second competition - the Esad Tournament in Breskens - before, finally, the penny dropped in the Mother City. The youngsters returned from the Netherlands as local heroes, basking in the glow of their success.

But, while warmth and ecstasy of the achievement will stay with the team forever, the next step is already upon them. The challenge now is to continue the progress.

They cannot rest on their laurels and believe the European triumph will determine their future. There is still a long way to go.

But there’s no doubt that this bunch of talented youngsters emerging from the Ajax youth academy are destined for stardom - if they keep their feet on the ground and stick to the work ethic that got them to where they are now.

Three players have already been promoted to the PSL squad - Darren Johnson, Sirgio Kammies and Masilake Phohlongo - and a few more, such as team captain Shane Saraline, Achmat Ceres and Leo Thethani, aren’t too far behind.

Johnson, Kammies, Phohlongo, Saraline and Ceres are on the radar of the national U20 squad. They were picked for a recent fixture against Namibia, but were withdrawn because of the European tour.

They will, definitely, come into contention for the South African U20s in the future. Thetani, a gifted winger, was the top goalscorer at the NextGen Series, and a bright future is predicted too.

Right-back Kammies, though, is on the fast track. Ajax’s PSL coach Roger de Sa has been extremely impressed with the 18-year-old’s prowess, which is why he has promoted the teenager at such a tender age. De Sa is confident he can grow and mature into a top-class flank defender.

From Elsies River, Kammies attended St Andrews High and Cravenby High in the area and played at Ikapa Sporting before joining the Ajax academy.

He has been at the Parow-based club for the last six years and he has certainly fulfilled the promise the club saw in him at an early age.

“The trip to Europe was great,” said Kammies. “And to be so successful makes it even better. It was my second trip … on the first, I was one of the youngest in the squad at the age of 16. But on this trip, I was one of the big, senior players.

“On my first tour to Europe, I was shy and unsure of myself. But on this one, I was able to express myself, and guide and lead the younger ones in the team.

“We came into the European competitions as underdogs, as rookies. We never started off well, losing our opening game in the NextGen tournament.

“I think, at that stage, people thought we would be easy, but we showed character and fought back to win that competition. We showed that we belonged there.

“In the second tournament, the Esad, I think people still didn’t believe in us. They perhaps thought that the previous success was a fluke, but again we showed our class, and just how good we can be.

“We showed that we are good enough to beat teams from Europe. We played with heart and courage, and we always made sure we went into everything as a team, with a united spirit.”

Having already been promoted to the PSL squad, Kammies has a bright future ahead of him. However, he’s taking things one step at a time, and he’s determined not to get too far ahead of himself.

He knows that he’s still young and there’s still a way to go, and a lot of hard work on the horizon.

“I was actually very surprised when I was promoted to the PSL squad last year,” he said. “It was a shock, I didn’t expect it at this early stage of my career. But the club’s management spoke to me and explained their thinking. They thought that I was good enough and they believe I have what it takes to compete in the PSL.”

Now, with all the confidence Ajax have in Kammies, the onus is on him to do justice to their faith in his precocious ability.

“I’ll just keep doing my best,” he said. “We’ll see how things go next season … I’m also looking forward to being part of the national set-up with the U20s. As for the future, I don’t want to look too far ahead, but obviously playing in Europe is in the back of my mind.”

Weekend Argus

Original source: Kammies has what it takes to be a big, senior player

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