I RECENTLY attended the Engen Under-17 football knockout cup where I saw some of South Africa’s most talented and up and coming stars.
15 September 2012 | Sean van Staden |Sports Columnist for the Citizen newspaper
There were two things that were quite evident in the tournament. First being the poor state of the referees ability to do their jobs even at a basic level (but I’ll leave this topic for another day) and the other being the extent of youth football development in South Africa is horrific.
Youth football clubs blame Safa for their lack of progress over the last 20 years, their lack of leadership and their short sightedness in developing future stars. Clubs on average have between 300 and 800 young athletes or 25 and 55 teams. Each of these teams need a coach and a manager which should have at least a level 1 Safa qualification.
In reality it is the mom or dad who’s child is in the team that ends up taking the team to fill the coaching gap. These coaches probably played football back in their days, but this by no means qualifies them to be a coach. Social coaches have no desire to qualify themselves and clubs are just happy to fill the shortage of coaches. Why is the system like this?
It is simply because there are no rules in place; it’s the wild west of development. Every coach thinks they are world’s greatest coach without the paper to prove it or the authority to enforce it. Gordon Igesund has recently spiked a media frenzy and given every South African a whimper of hope.
He has done so by stating that there have been a handful of talented stars, of world-class standards, playing abroad that have gone unnoticed. Why has the media gone crazy and why are most football loving fans talking about who these stars could be? The ironic part is that if Igesund had to say that he knew of a handful of talented stars playing in South Africa that were overlooked his comments wouldn’t even make the back page of the classifieds.
If our head coach is looking abroad for talent what does it say about the state or our youth development system? What does it say about Safa’s leadership over the years? This time I won’t leave it to your imagination; I’ll just tell you that it is in a sad state of affairs. South Africa doesn’t have quality qualified coaches, it doesn’t have leadership, and it doesn’t have structure or vision.
I will say this, however, that little does Safa know there are passionate coaches, managers and organisers that have dedicated their lives to giving back to football and that are still in the system, fighting hard for change and for the hopes that their young bloods will move on to better structures and greener pastures.
This brings me to my final question: what has happened to the R480-million that Fifa gave Safa for football development before the World Cup two years ago and should you dare question why Safa announced a R50-million deficit in their budget? What future are can our youth look forward to with poor service delivery?!
■ Sean is a sports scientist and director of Advanced Sports Performance. Catch his column every fortnight. Follow him on Tw itter