Futsal to impact SA

2013-09-06 00:00

THE South African Indoor Football Association (Saifa), under the leadership of Pietermaritzburg attorney Poobalan Govindasamy, has launched a national indoor football league that will kick off next month.

Govindasamy, who is the president of Saifa, and sits on the executive of South African Football Association (Safa), told The Witness yesterday that the initial plan was to start off with a league of eight teams and grow by two teams every year until there is a 16-team competition.

He said the league was made possible by the 2010 Fifa World Cup Legacy Trust that saw their being given R1,6 million to get the project off the ground.

“Had we not hosted the World Cup, this windfall of R1,6 million would not have been available,” said Govindasamy.

This year’s competition will see two Pietermaritzburg sides in Maritzburg Hotspurs and Young Natalians taking on Ethekwini City from Durban, Tshwane City, Flo Stars from Mpumalanga, OBC Chickens from the Free State, Cape Town Titans and Western Province Eagles.

With some of world football’s biggest stars in the likes of Ronaldinho, Robinho and Neymar having started in futsal, Govindasamy hoped it would have the same impact in South Africa.

“In Brazil, they don’t play 11-man football up until a certain age. We want to say to South Africa: ‘Let’s play futsal before we play football’,” he said.

“In futsal, you touch the ball more. You develop this love affair with the ball and you become a skilled player,” he said, adding that they had the full backing of Safa to get the league off the ground.

“We’re thankful to Safa and the 2010 Fifa World Cup Legacy Trust for letting us get this off the ground,” said Govindasamy.

The registration of players was currently under way, and the average age was around 20. The players would all be completely amateur, but Govindasamy said the goal was to one day “create employment through another stream of football” and have a fully professional league.

The teams would also be flown around the country to avoid their having to travel by roads.

“Flights are going to be the most expensive, but we’ve lost a lot of players on the roads,” he said in reference to an accident that killed nine players in the Eastern Cape in July.

Besides the national league, Govindasamy said they had urged futsal clubs to get involved in regional leagues, to act as a feeder system. The regional league would also be used to promote clubs into the top flight.

The national league will kick off on October 5.

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