Khoza hopes new league will boost development

By Drum Digital
12 August 2014

Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza hopes the new under-19 reserve league will encourage clubs to invest more resources into youth academies.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Irvin Khoza hopes the new under-19 reserve league will encourage clubs to invest more resources into youth academies.

"This will increase the pool of players to choose from for the various national teams ranks," Khoza said in Johannesburg on Tuesday at the launch of the new-look reserve league which would be contested by under-19 players from the 16 PSL teams.

"Young players will be afforded the opportunity to showcase their talent and, for some, it will be a chance to breakthrough to a good career with their clubs."

The PSL boss, who wears numerous executive hats within South African football, including being the owner of Orlando Pirates, said the MultiChoice Diski Challenge would entice senior teams to field younger players.

"Teams will have to go far and wide to look for talent. There is an incentive for the families and community member to go out there and see their sons on the field of play.

"I think the young players can add some energy to the senior league. The injection of youth into our top league would bring the excitement back into football."

The Diski Challenge, which starts on September 13, is expected to become a hotbed for exceptional youth players, he said.

With the league set to give a platform to burgeoning talent, Khoza's wish was to see many youngsters make the progression to senior club teams.

"We have seen from leagues around the world that the focus has been on younger players. We know that we have the players out there and this would assist in exposing them."

The three-year deal between the broadcaster and the Premiership would see the reserve league televised live for the first time.

In its previous form, the reserve league only incorporated clubs who were based in the Gauteng province. However, the rejuvenated league would now include sides from all the Premiership teams, Khoza said.

"Every team currently in the league is now included, whereas, in the past, logistically it was not possible.

"No team can complain about not being in the reserve league and not being treated equally."

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula welcomed the news and said the initiative served to tackle some of the talent development problems South African football had been faced with.

"The onus is on the clubs to go out there and find the talent in the rural and impoverished communities. It's also in line with our skills development programme as a ministry," Mbalula said.

He also urged clubs to pump more money into the lower ranks and curb their huge expenditure on the first teams.

"More funds need to be allocated to development. We have said it in the past that we are going nowhere if our youth structures aren't in place."

With an under-19 footballer expected to balance his life between playing league soccer and school studies, Mbalula said there was "an undeniable symbiosis" between education and sport.

"School is the grassroots of sporting development. Where else are we going to find the talent, if not from the schools? What's important is that we find a balance where our stars are not only talented but educated as well.

"This is also in line with what we are trying to achieve with our schools' sports programme where we encourage the participation of children in sport."

-SAPA

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