Ex stars start clinic to unearth talent for Bafana

2010-01-04 11:43

SIX FORMER Bafana Bafana stars, including Shaun Bartlett, will run

three soccer “boot camps” in Gauteng over the next six months in a bid to

unearth new talent for Bafana Bafana.

Bartlett and the other former Bafana players are worried at the

South African Football Association’s (Safa) failure to stop Bafana’s slide into

a third rate soccer nation after being number one in Africa in 1996.

The first clinic or “boot camp” will be held at the BidVest Wits

Youth Academy in Milpark this weekend.

It will run from Friday to Sunday and is open for youth aged

between 16 years and 19 years. Players from Gauteng clubs have been invited and

sports goods company Nike will pay their expenses, including accommodation,

boots and training kit.

Nike will plough in around R14?million into the project, says

Bartlett, who is the mastermind behind the coaching plan.

In a no punches pulled interview today Bartlett said Safa had

failed to develop talent for Bafana and that he and former Bafana kingpins Roger

de Sa, Eric Tinkler, Fani Madida, Linda Buthelezi and Tebogo Moloi, were

determined to do something to rectify the crisis.

A former Charlton Athletic striker, Bartlett won a winner’s medal

with Bafana in the 1996 African Nations Cup and scored two goals for his country

at the 1998 World Cup finals in France in the 2-2 draw against Saudi

Arabia.

Bartlett, who is an ambassador for the inaugural Volkswagen Junior

International Youth Tournament that kicked off in Port Elizabeth today, said:

“We have gone backwards since 1996.

That is a fact borne out by our current

world ranking of 85th when in 1996 Bafana were in the top 20 in the world.

“It is a sad state of affairs. If the powers that be (Safa) are not

prepared to do something then we as former Bafana players are going to do

something with the help of Nike, who have come to the party.”

Bartlett added: “It is vital we start at the bottom and lay a solid

foundation. Our goal is to produce players who will represent Bafana at the 2014

World Cup in Brazil.

This is not a one-off project. We start with 350 players this

weekend at Milpark. After the other two camps in Gauteng in April and during the

World Cup in June we will select 20 boys to go and train in Brazil, where they

will play some matches at one of Brazil’s World Cup stadiums sometime in

2011.”

Bartlett said he was disappointed Safa had stopped using the school

of excellence at Esselen Park near Kempton Park, where a number of players,

including Steven Pienaar, were discovered.

Bartlett, who scored 29 goals in 74 appearances for Bafana, said:

“Safa decided not to continue with the school of excellence and put their money

elsewhere. To me that was a mistake and disappointing. If we do not develop our

youth we will not produce any top players.

This venture is a long-term programme and will be run on similar

lines as their boot camp projects in South Korea, the US and Europe.”

Bartlett is quietly confident Bafana will make the nation proud

during the World Cup.

“When we won the Nations Cup in 1996 we were carried by massive

home support and I hope the country rallies behind Bafana and gives them the

same support. I am quietly optimistic we can make history by reaching the second

round for the first time in our history.”

But Bartlett said he had a big concern.

“My worry is that by June the players could be drained as they will

have been in camp for something like three months, which I feel might be too

long to be in a training camp. But hopefully with home support Bafana will rise

to the occasion.”


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