Government must step in and revive the school, says Steven Pienaar
Former Bafana Bafana captain Steven “Schillo” Pienaar has lamented the shocking neglect and deteriorating state of the once thriving Safa-Transnet Football School of Excellence.
The former Ajax Amsterdam, Everton, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder is regarded as one of the best products of the school and he said the now crumbling facility is a far cry from the glory days in the 1990s when he himself honed his skills before moving to Ajax Cape Town and later Europe.
“When I was there it was totally different," he said from his base in Holland where he is doing his coaching internship at Ajax Amsterdam.
"Transnet pumped in a lot of money into the school because they believed in the project and they were fully behind it.”
The school produced a long list of superstars and it includes the likes of Daine Klate, Dillon Sheppard, Shaun Potgieter, Gabriel Mofokeng, Lucky Maselesele and Andile Cele among others.
“Over the last couple of years the school has been going a bit downward with not enough players coming through for different reasons.
"I don’t know if it’s the financial part of things with sponsors not putting enough money in or what,” said Pienaar, who spent more than a decade playing for some of the best teams in Europe.
After leaving Ajax Cape Town in 2001, Pienaar's career took him to the Netherlands where he joined Ajax Amsterdam.
He also played for Borussia Dortmund in Germany, and Everton, Spurs and Sunderland in England.
He returned to SA at the twilight of his career and had a short stint with Bidvest Wits before retiring.
Pienaar said government must step in and revive the school as it was once a conveyor belt of talent for the clubs and the various national teams.“It is a school that government has to get involved in because it has produced a lot of talented players," he said.
"If I am not mistaken, about 80 percent of the players from the school turned professional and some of them played for Bafana Bafana.
"I remember that at some stage when I was playing for the SA under-19 national team, we had about eight players from the school.
“It clearly shows that development is very important for the future of the country and its national team. We don’t have a lot of development schools like that and it is just sad the way it is going now with the school.”
Pienaar added that talented young players must move to leagues in Belgium and Scandinavia to improve themselves in front of scouts from top teams in Europe.
“Our boys in SA have to get into leagues like Belgium and in Scandinavia to develop themselves because that is the stepping stone to the big leagues in Europe," he said.
"You are basically on the backyard of the big leagues.”