Indian job for Naidoo

2014-06-12 00:00

ALL too often we find ourselves talking about failed service delivery in football. We point fingers at the selfishness of the sport’s administrators in this country and the lack of progress in developing the structures that we need for the game to flourish on all levels. It can all get a bit monotonous and frustrating, which is precisely why the story of Pietermaritzburg’s Katz Naidoo is one worth telling.

A servant of South African football for over 20 years, Naidoo has earned his stripes as a man who loves the beautiful game, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.

This month, the 64-year-old will be jetting off to Goa in India where he will take up a three-year post as a technical director to the Goa Football Development Council.

Naidoo got the job through his ties with the South African Football Association where he began working as a coaching instructor in 1999. He also spent four years as head coach of the University of KwaZulu-Natal team before joining Maritzburg United as the director of football development under then-coach Gordon Igesund in 2010.

He was still contracted to Safa as an instructor before getting the job in India, and his experience and dedication over the years meant that his name was thrown in the hat when the post in Goa came up.

“I was first approached by [Safa technical director] Fran Hilton-Smith in October or November last year,” Naidoo told The Witness. “There was a process that I followed and by February I got another call that I had gotten the job.”

Before accepting, Naidoo paid a visit to Goa to get a feeling for what he would be getting himself into, and what he found astounded him.

“I was very impressed,” he said. “They [Goa] have 19 centres set up with two coaches at each and they look after U12, U13 and U14 age groups.”

Naidoo’s job will be to facilitate the programmes that they have in place at these development centres. He will have an admin staff of 14 working under him.

“Football is a complex game and it takes time to learn things,” he said. “Skill is not only about doing things on the field. Training should focus more on challenging the mind.”

Naidoo will spend a year in Goa with his wife, Jess, joining him later before returning home for a break, but he is relishing the challenge.

“It is a great opportunity for me. Football is something that is my DNA,” he said.

“I also love working with kids. That is the work that has allowed me the grounding that I have.”

It wasn’t always overseas contracts and cushy Safa jobs for Naidoo.

For the first six years of his coaching and development career he worked with children under Transnet and Simba, spending Saturdays and Sundays in townships in and around Pietermaritzburg.

“I have worked in the dust bowls of South Africa,” he said. “For the first few years at Transnet there was no payment.”

There were also a lot of people who he says helped him along the way.

“Guys like Ted Dumitru, Horst Krete, Thabo Dladla and Jay Govender really helped me and my development from the very beginning,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

Naidoo is expecting to leave South Africa by June 16 at the latest.

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