Durban to be first to get football academy

2013-10-03 00:00

DURBAN is set to become the first city in South Africa to construct a state-of-the-art football academy that forms part of Safa’s 2020 vision.

The news came yesterday at Moses Mabhida Stadium where the annual Soccerex football forum was taking place.

The Hoy Park Sports Development Centre will be situated near the Elangeni Hotel, and will accommodate 88 boys in four age groups who will be educated at schools in and around Durban. Five practice pitches (three synthetic and two turf), one match pitch and three five-a-side pitches will form part of the R70 million facility that is being largely funded by international company IEC International Football Events.

The centre will also boast a gymnasium, a hotel, a swimming pool, an indoor running track, a study area, lecture rooms, auditoriums, a rehabilitation centre and a spa.

In 2012, Safa outlined a 10-year plan to make Bafana Bafana a permanent fixture in Africa’s top three sides and the world’s top 20. A major aspect of what has been called the “technical master plan” was to have world class academies set up in all nine provinces as well as one national academy. Hoy Park is the first step in that plan.

“We are not a footballing nation. We pretend to be, but we are not,” said newly appointed Safa president Danny Jordaan yesterday. “This announcement must be the death of failure and mediocrity. We must become a footballing nation.”

The project’s technical director Paulo Cardoso emphasised the importance of the academy being used to its full potential.

“We can have good infrastructure, but without implementation we will have nothing,” he said. “There is currently no system in place to identify and develop young players.”

Part of the 2020 vision is to get more coaches qualified in South Africa — with 10 000 a year being the target between now and 2020.

Without quality scouts, coaches and administrative officials operating in South African football, Cardoso said the process of developing young players would not be possible.

IEC’s head of logistics and operations David Broomhall confirmed that his team was ready to start construction on the facility upon being given the green light from provincial government.

“We are ready to start right away and the project will take 10 months from beginning to end,” he said.

But it is never that simple, and eThekwini Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said that council still had to sign off the project, and that this was expected to happen by the end of October. “There are still some negotiations that need to happen with national government,” she said.

In addition to the news of Hoy Park, it was also confirmed yesterday that a new international U19 club tournament will be staged in Durban over the next three years. A Hoy Park XI and a Safa U19 side will be joined by six other international sides in July or August next year in a tournament that will end in a Moses Mabhida final.

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