No single association in South Africa has taken the responsibility to solve the problems we face in South African football. With current uncertainty over the position of Bafana Bafana coach, Luca Kotton, Wits Vuvuzela journalist and a soccer player, weighs in on the crisis in South African soccer.
Our current football leadership structures remain in disarray, with not enough time and effort being put into developing young talent across the country. The once successful School of Excellence is a shadow of its once very capable hands that saw the likes of Steven Pienaar being produced. This is an abuse to a country whose football talent far exceeds others. Football leadership is a vital part of our country succeeding on an international level. In many other countries pride is taken in developing their national youth soccer teams whereas, in South Africa national youth soccer teams are almost nonexistent. When compared to other higher internationally ranked sporting codes such as rugby and cricket, school soccer is clearly on the back foot.[pullquote align=”left”]”The problem is everybody knows the problems but whose going to fix it. Let’s not talk, talk, talk, and let’s do it.” [/pullquote]
These issues extend to the highest organisational levels where the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and SAFA (South African Football Association) fail to see eye to eye in many circumstances. One of the consequences of the lack of synergy between these two key organisations is the repeated drama clubs not releasing players for internationals like the African Nations Cup. But where do we go from here? Who is the right person for the job?
Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt, who has often been rumored to step into the national coaching job by media, said there was a need for football associations to take a more proactive stance. “It was needed 20 or 30 years ago, the problem is everybody knows the problems but whose going to fix it. Let’s not talk, talk, talk, and let’s do it. We need people who know what they doing and the problem is do they know football,” he said.
Local academy coach Daryn Patricio, who is linked with the Dutch football association (KNVB), said the Dutch system advocate linear thinking between all coaches and all members associated with the KNVB. “The Dutch Federation has a very simple way of thinking, you help me and I help you. The Dutch have two important parts to their success. First, they have a coach’s database, where amateur coaches can interact with the national team coach. The second is that each coach needs to re-take his or her coaching license every three years.
Failure to do so results in the license being revoked. The system works because it keeps the whole of the Dutch football community on the same page. This way of thinking would aid our national team because all our coaches would be on one similar path, instead of everyone trying to outdo each other.
SAFA needs to carefully think about their next move in terms of coaching and youth soccer development. A clearly defined youth program is needed if we aspire to be at the levels that Brazil displayed at FNB stadium on March 5 when they beat Bafana Bafana 5-0. For the sake of all the talented youngsters playing on the streets, in townships and school grounds, let’s hope the new SAFA can do justice to our future football stars.