Pressing Issues: At last, a positive move towards proper soccer development

2014-04-08 10:00

There were three important, positive events around soccer development this past week.

One of them was the three-day Fifa workshop at the Sandton Convention Centre addressed by the world football governing body’s secretary-general Jérôme Valcke and attended by 27 members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The country members were represented by presidents, secretaries-general and technical directors.

The members were mostly from English-speaking countries. We all know how powerful the Francophone block is in CAF. But this is neither here nor there, and there was no explanation for this unequal representation.

One hopes that the workshop achieved its goal of taking African football a step further in its development.

Besides stating how important CAF is to Fifa, Valcke said his organisation would like to see African countries “professionalise teams, negotiate good deals and have strong grassroots development structures”.

It cannot be overemphasised how important this is for South Africa, and any help from Fifa will go a long way in the development of the beautiful game on the continent.

SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan was also spot-on when he said: “If we are to take our game to the next level, we need to emphasise infrastructure development and commercial programmes.”

These are very important elements of the game.

But Fifa’s decision to host the seminar in South Africa might fuel speculation in some African countries that should Jordaan climb the CAF ladder and become president one day, he would move the organisation’s headquarters from Cairo to Joburg.

Another important event was the Safa Under-17 interprovincial tournament held at Pimville’s Nike football training centre. The 12-team event culminates in the final between

Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits today.

This is an important tournament for development but one must point out that Safa needs to rethink the format. It should be restricted to provincial teams, with no clubs.

It was obvious from day one the playing field was not level, as Mamelodi Sundowns walloped Western Cape 5-0 while Chiefs annihilated Gauteng by the same margin. Wits embarrassed the Free State squad 11-0 in the semifinal to be in today’s final.

Safa should think of having a separate tournament for clubs. Clubs have players training day in and day out while provinces can only call up players when there is a tournament.

The third event was the camp at the Durban Hoy Park Development Academy, where 123 players gathered to be trimmed down to 20 for the KZN Under-19 XI. This process has been taking place under the eagle eye of youth coach Paulo Cardoso of Portugal.

He has moved up and down the province searching for talented players to be housed at the academy and form an Under-19 team that will participate at the Durban International Under-19 Football Tournament in August.

The KZN lads will compete against clubs from Portugal, England and Argentina at the tournament. Before this, they will participate at the Safa Under-19 interprovincial tournament in Bloemfontein next month.

These are positive signs for development that have been dead for years in this country. Safa must sustain such events to grow our football.

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