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In and out of Africa

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Academy manager John McDermott described his whistle-stop visit to South Africa as a ‘fantastic experience’.

John certainly packed plenty into his 36 hours after touching down in Johannesburg on Thursday morning.

The reason for the trip was to take his place on the judging panel for the Spurs-inspired reality TV hit Sokka Kings.

On Thursday afternoon he met and spent time with the five finalists of the programme before recording the show. He also got to know the finalists’ parents in explaining what life is all about as a young professional footballer in England.

On Friday he met up with his former colleague at the Football Association and current South African national team coach Stuart Baxter before flying back to London.

“One thing really struck me over there and that was the vast spectrum of life backgrounds,” reflected John on his return to Spurs Lodge. “I spent a lot of time with the finalists, asking about their lives and what their homes were like and for some of them staying in the hotel was luxury compared to the accommodation they’ve had to live in.

“One of the best things about the Sokka Kings show was that it gave kids a completely new experience in their life.

“I got to meet parents as well and they really appreciated that their kids had this opportunity. It’s a fantastic life opportunity as well for the winner to come over to Spurs Lodge — the club has a great profile in South Africa which has now been carried on from our most recent tour there in July 2003.

“I also met with Stuart Baxter and we had time together before South Africa’s game against Ghana.

“It was good to see him and to listen to his insight into African football and how players develop over there, how he’s learning and developing as a coach.

“He would suggest that a lot of the poverty enhances the players because they’ve not been over-coached, they play on poor pitches with flat balls and they have to improvise and be innovative.

“I would certainly describe being on the TV show as ‘different’ and it was interesting to see how it all worked. It’s an exciting venture for the Club and we look forward to seeing some great new talent. Overall it was a fantastic experience and I would love to go back there for more than 36 hours next time!”