United’s new base at Carter

2012-07-20 00:00

THINGS are looking up for Maritzburg United after it was confirmed yesterday that the PSL franchise will use Carter High School as their training base for the upcoming season.

The news sees the club move away from the Ohrtmann Road complex in Willowton where they trained last season.

The deal with Carter has been signed off as a “memorandum of understanding” and is set to last for the entire 2012/13 season, with the possibility of it being extended after that.

With Ohrtmann Road being declared a public ground by the municipality, there were no guarantees that United would be given exclusive use of the field, and when the squad arrived to start their pre-season training last month, they were greeted by a field that had been littered with glass bottles and was unplayable.

“It would have been impossible to conduct our pre-season training there,” United coach Ernst Middendorp told The Witness yesterday.

At their new training facility, United will have use of fields maintained by Carter, the school’s swimming pool and a gym in the school’s indoor centre.

“The facilities here are outstanding and we are being treated like the professional team that we are. It is a win-win situation, we feel very welcomed by the school and the kids,” he said.

For the school, the decision to accommodate the Team of Choice forms part of a greater plan to pave the way for a football school of excellence or an academy.

“Soccer is the most popular sport in the country and this is the beginning of what we want to do, and that is to make this a school of football excellence,” said Carter’s sports co-ordinator, Ismail Kajee.

If Middendorp’s philosophy is anything to go by, then it sounds like Kajee’s plans for the school are attainable.

“This is a short-term solution, but in the medium term the next step would be to see if we can identify young talent and get them to come to the school and they can train with us,” the coach added. “We are the team of Pietermaritzburg and we are involved with our community.”

Carter’s principal, Ashwin Ramgoolam, shared Kajee’s sentiments.

“We are delighted to have solidified this partnership that will benefit the team as well as the school,” he said.

“They are in their fourth week of training here and we have enjoyed a very positive time together.”

The new season kicks off early next month with United’s first fixture away to the newly promoted University of Pretoria on a date to be confirmed by the PSL.

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