SAFA starts junior leagues

By Drum Digital
29 April 2013

Two new junior soccer leagues were launched in Soweto on Monday by the SA Football Association (Safa), using R28 million from the 2010 Fifa World Cup Legacy Trust.

"We, as the trust, received just over R450 million," the trust fund's general manager Greg Fredericks said.

"There has been allocated R56m to various programs, and R28m for Safa programs, with just over R17m for this program."

The announcement followed weekend newspaper reports that Safa had spent part of the legacy trust on buying Mercedes Benz vehicles for their executives.

"We all know to develop a player it takes something like 10 years, so you have to start them at an age where the player puts in the hard work," Fredericks said as he detailed the 10-year plan.

It would include under-13 and under-15 leagues and academies for both boys and girls.

"So by age 22 or 23, they are the finished product."

Safa president Kirsten Nematandani said the future of South African football was bright and a large number of players would be produced through the new system.

"Our objective is to develop football and we are on the right track," said Nematandani.

"We need to develop nothing less than 150,000 players as part of a 10-year process. The plans we have are to ensure each region identifies nothing less than 20 top players."

Monitoring the players would be a nationwide process carried out by Safa-appointed talent spotters.

"We will need to have scouts who have the right knowledge to pick players. Those that are great will make it to one of nine academies, including boys and girls."

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund applauded the initiative.

"This is the most brilliant idea and should've been done a long time ago," he said.

"We have so much talent in this country, but we don't have the coaches to match. Everything the players learn at each age group they have to forget as they make it through to the next age group."

-Sapa

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