Safa-La Liga deal will benefit schools

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Young star Bernard Edward April – already a star at the young age of 12 – is off to Spain. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images
Young star Bernard Edward April – already a star at the young age of 12 – is off to Spain. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images

Football association delegation heads to Spain to study development.

Two of the most underdeveloped aspects of South African football – women and schools – will be major beneficiaries of the partnership between the South African Football Association (Safa) and La Liga that was signed this week.

Safa president Danny Jordaan said his organisation was in the process of forming a national women’s league and would soon send a 10-person delegation to Spain on a fact-finding mission.

Sport and Recreation Minister Thulas Nxesi is expected to be part of this mooted delegation. Nxesi said an invitation had been sent through the ambassador’s office and he was “seriously considering going.”

The director for La Liga in Africa, Antonio Barradas, confirmed that his organisation would take the delegation on a tour of Spanish football academies for women.

“Women’s football has grown in leaps and bounds in Spain. During this tour, we will take the Safa delegation to a number of clubs and academies, especially those for women,” he said.

La Liga has already partnered with a number of South African tournaments and, as a result, they will be taking star player 12-year-old Bernard Edward April to Spain on a 10-day visit at the end of this month. He will spend that time at one of La Liga’s clubs.

April was voted the player of the tournament at a Safa John Taolo Gaeleshewe Region tournament two months ago.

Three other youngsters, a girl and two boys, were identified at the recent Gauteng Future Champions tournament and will join him.

“His touches of the ball were so magical that every one ended up calling him ‘the little Messi’,” said Barradas.

The La Liga representative said they would be sending a group of coaches to South Africa to train school teachers.

“We hope those teachers will then teach others so that the pool of grassroots coaches in South Africa can be increased.”

Jordaan said this initiative was a perfect fit for his organisation’s Vision 2022.

“The national executive committee on Saturday ratified the decision to have the national women’s league of 12 teams kick off at the beginning of 2019,” he said.

“The league will have nine provincial teams, two PSL clubs [Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic] that have active women’s teams, and the 12th will be next year’s universities champions.”

On the coaching side, Jordaan said the target of Vision 2022 was to have about 120 000 coaches who would bring the ratio per active player to one coach to 20 players.

“When we started in 2013, the ratio was one coach for every 200 players, which was not very good for proper development.”

He said as the custodian of football in this country, Safa was quite pleased with the number of former Bafana Bafana players who were now active as PSL coaches.

He mentioned the likes of Pitso Mosimane, Benni McCarthy, Eric Tinkler and Steve Komphela as good examples, as well as Doctor Khumalo, who was recently appointed technical director by Baroka FC.

Jordaan revealed that Helman Mkhalele – one of the coaches working closely with Safa technical director Neil Tovey – will soon be taking the Under-18 team to a tournament in England.

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