Safa to set up national football academy
19 October 2011
The South African Football Association (Safa) is forging ahead with plans to revamp the Transnet/Safa School of Excellence in Elandsfontein, east of Johannesburg. Led by Steve Pila, head of academies at Safa, the project is already under way.
The school has already produced some notable stars, including Bafana Bafana captain and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Steven Pienaar, Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs' striker Bernard Parker and Orlando Pirates' winger Daine Klate.
Now it is set to evolve into a national football academy. To this end, the Association has developed a concept plan that will herald a national academy system comprising local football association satellites, regional centres of excellence, and provincial academies all feeding into the national academy.
A fact-finding mission will be undertaken at the school on Thursday, 20 October. The visit forms the basis of a coordinated implementation process of various departments at Safa to help the school, and to have a close collaboration between the institute and the association.
The provincial academies will be managed by directors in collaboration with the provincial government and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).
Nine schools, one per province, will be identified to serve as academies, and the preferred schools will be those with a good reputation in sport and education. Forty learners (40), between the ages of 13 and 16 with football potential will be placed in the schools."This has been a long time coming. This is one of the best football development projects in the country and, as the Football Association, we have taken it upon ourselves to ensure it goes back to its glory days.
"This is the same school that produced stars like Pienaar, Klate and Parker, but over the last few years we haven’t seen any great player coming from the school, so we need to do something about it for the future of this country," said Pila, who pioneered the school in 1994.
Part of the plans to bring the school back to its glory days include:
- Repositioning the school into a National Football Academy for the association.
- Using the school to develop world-class football players for the country.
- Advancing holistic development programmes in football, education and life skills by identifying and nurturing the best football talents in the country.
- Engaging in a pro-active dialogue with the government to generate a partnership in recognition of football as a national asset.
- Performing a thorough skills audit at the school.
- Deploying Safa technical director Serame Letsoaka to take charge of football at the school.
- Transforming it into a state-of-the-art high performance centre and creating a hub for football development in the country.
- Ensuring that junior national teams use the school's facilities for camps.
- Facilitating exchange programmes and participating in international youth tournaments.
Pila will also consult with the Department of Education to ensure that the players get adequate education.
"We want when things don't go their way later in life, then they have something to fall back on," he said.
"This is a two-pronged process that we hope will improve the lives of the many aspiring footballers, and we want to play our part in that if they can't make the grade in football, they can still pursue their studies as an alternative.
"We are already in talks with people from the USA (University Sports) and tertiary institutions to provide bursaries for boys that will complete Grade 12, as well as the Department of Education, to evaluate the curriculum of the school.
"We will also customise the academic program to allow learners ample time to be active in the class and out on the fields," Pila said.
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