Bucs and Chiefs should emulate La Masia factory: iLIVE
Recent cash injections into the Premier Soccer League, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs have elevated their bank balances to unimaginable levels.
Certain clubs, the national association and the elite league have for a number of years enjoyed robust financial health. The most recent sponsorship deal apparently makes our top league the seventh-richest in world football.
Disappointingly, there has been no commensurate improvement in the standard of play, production of international-class players and, most distressingly, a cavalier approach to football development at grassroots.
It is a sure indication that the money has not been spent wisely to target inefficiencies in the playing of the game.
I recently searched the club and league rankings drawn up by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, a Fifa associate. The PSL and our elite clubs, unsurprisingly, fare dismally. Our top-performing club, Orlando Pirates, came in at a lowly 394. Our national league is rated the 74th-best in the world. We are five places below Sudan and one place above India. Without even bringing our national team into the discussion, we can evaluate how poor is our international standing.
I am involved in a community football project that caters for underprivileged neighbourhood kids. We play in a league that features junior teams from the PSL, NFD and football academies. With our begging bowls and limited resources, we offer substantially more children opportunities to participate and develop than cash-flush clubs.
Take for instance Kaizer Chiefs. The golden age of learning football is between the ages of 13 and 14. This is ignored by the Naturena-based club, which field only an under-18 team - a clear indication that development is not a priority.
With their massive investments in football, corporates should attach requirements and demand that beneficiaries set up development structures with an appropriate educational foundation. With the largesse the Soweto giants have, they could easily replicate the FC Barcelona talent factory La Masia, where youth players are sent to the best schools in Barcelona and have tutors on call to see to their educational needs.