Development soccer in need of help

2014-11-08 00:00

THERE are those who rebel in an attempt to ignite change, and then there those who rebel because they simply can’t help themselves.

That’s what I learnt at this week’s Soccerex African Forum at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The development of the Hoy Park Soccer Academy has, in truth, caused a bit of embarrassment for all concerned since it was first announced — ironically, at the 2013 Soccerex over a year ago.

Since then, there has been close to no progress made. The only action seen in this time has been the hosting of an international U19 tournament that was organised by Hoy Park management, and a venue change. Originally, the construction was set to take place at Hoy Park near the beachfront, but the King’s Park sporting precinct has since been confirmed as the new venue. Berea Rovers, as a result, are set to be kicked off of the premises that they have occupied for 38 years.

They are not going to go away quietly and have vowed to fight the decision, but that is a story for another time.

Frustrations aside, the academy was originally welcomed by the country’s footballing community. Youth development and a lack of structures at grassroots level are issues that have turned many blue in the face for years.

Safa wasn’t doing enough, and we were all very vocal on their lack of intent and execution in creating these structures.

A state-of-the-art academy in KZN was the first step in starting that process — an initiative that finally turned words into actions.

This week at Soccerex, Hoy Park management’s partnership with Liverpool was explained before a member of the South African Football Coaches Association stood up and made a scene. He moved for the project to be halted, basing his argument on the fact that the foreign influence of the English club was not welcome in this country.

We have our own expertise here, and that is what we should be relying on, he said. He was quite clearly referring to the fact that our “own expertise” has worked wonders for us over the years. You can tell by the success of our national team and our thriving youth development.

It was just frustrating. An English club arrives and commits a lot of money towards ensuring that we get this thing off the ground, and instead of seeing the longer term benefits that the academy would bring to our football, there are still those who take issue and vent.

These are the very same people who have devoted their lives to the betterment of football in this country, but the fact that they are not directly involved in the project seems enough reason to label it “another form of colonisation”.

Liverpool are here to show the world that they take their social responsibilities seriously, that is all. They are not here to steal our players or impose their philosophy on our football, nor are they here to take our jobs or burden our coaches. Let’s be humble and acknowledge that we need to do whatever it takes to provide the platforms for our youngsters to play football.

That is what this is about, and that is a goal that all of the country’s selfless football servants should share.

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