By Kenan J Williams 

Soccer development or lack thereof within SAFA

 

Football development in South Africa at an all time low leaving football lovers within the country with little hope to hold onto in terms of international success.

 

A sport that unites a country previously divided and stirs hope and faith among many has seen better days in the South African footballing development system. Soccer development or the increasing lack thereof has affected the national footballing industry immensely, with a lack of quality, young talent and international superstars reaching an all time low. With a lowly ranked national team and “top players” struggling to fully establish themselves in the English League 2 setup, football development at a grassroots level needs to be addressed, and fast, if this country, filled with an abundance of talent, wants to thrive in the footballing industry.

 

Years ago the likes of Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe, Steven Pienaar, Quinton Fortune and many more lit up the international stage and represented South Africa, winning many major honours and becoming famed footballing legends while at it. Nowadays there are only a handful of South African internationals abroad, barely keeping their name on the starting 11 sheet, week in and week out. These few players struggle because of a lack of the implementation of the basics, of structure and knowledge to the behind the scenes part of the game, the physicality and nutrition. With just raw talent and determination, the extra edge to the game eludes them each and every time because a lack of the fundamentals.

   

SAFA constantly host gatherings and talks regarding the youth and their plans to implement training camps and establish academies which never come to fruition. The lack of these development systems shows prominently in the quality of football displayed at a school level with some schools not even allowing soccer as a recognized sport. Clubs with a lack of facilities and lack of intervention from government organizations get by but only just, unable to expand or thrive due to these conditions.

 

The development of football at a senior level is purely based on how the grassroots and youth are developed from a young age. This type of intervention will not only promote our national footballing standards in the future but could help in many other unrelated issues within the country. These types of development structures could decrease the number of youth involved in gang related activities, reaching to them on another level. These developments will not only improve soccer within the country but living conditions, morals, acceptance of one another and could prove to be another step forward, post 1994 to the acceptance of all.

 

The plea to SAFA for our talent to be nurtured, for our footballing industry to thrive again and for South Africa to be a nation filled with love and one that can flourish is a plea that cannot be ignored any longer. Development needs to be addressed urgently because if not now, then when?