Safa wakes up to soccer development crisis
A STARTLING admission by president Kirsten Nematandani and CEO Robin Petersen that Safa's development approach has been woefully inadequate gives hope that the body has finally woken up to its deficiencies.
Safa's Technical Master Plan, developed in the wake of Bafana Bafana's failure to qualify for their second successive Africa Cup of Nations last year with an embarrassing misunderstanding of the rules in Nelspruit, was met with a lukewarm reaction.
But the association's unveiling this week of the Safa Development Agency (SDA) to drive and fund the plan, to be headed by Petersen from next month, gives hope of a concrete materialisation of the ambitious, R250m-a-year initiative.
The most surprising aspect of Nematandani and Petersen's charm offensive this week in announcing the SDA was their admission that Safa's ad hoc development approach had failed dismally.
It's a seismic shift from the stony silence and denial that emerged from Safa House when the issue was raised in the past.
Petersen said: "I think failure can sometimes be your best teacher. In December the president and I were sitting in a hotel at the airport waiting for the under-23s to come back from Morocco.
"As you know, we didn't make it to the Olympics. That came just a month or two after our debacle in Mbombela. And a short while later the under-20s didn't even reach the group stages in the Cosafa.
"We recognised that things that happen at top level is how we are judged. And we're nowhere to be seen. We're as far out in the rankings as we've been.
"The president said, 'we need to do something more fundamental than we've been doing'."
The formation of the SDA was passed at Safa's last executive committee meeting.
Petersen will be CEO of the agency from January 1. Safa's COO, Dennis Mumble, becomes the association's acting CEO.
Safa's aim is for Bafana to be consistently in the top three in Africa.
Sources of funding will be the Fifa Legacy Trust, existing development projects brought within Safa's central plan, the Lotto, and government and corporate social investment.
Key areas of the Safa plan:
To define a national philosophy through all coaching structures;
A talent pipeline that identifies, tracks and develops players from latest 13;
Successful countries have a ratio of one coach to 16-20 players; SA has 1/300 and wants 150000;
Organised competitions and club structure from a local football association (LFA) level;
Technology: safa.net will ultimately have all three million players, 311 LFAs, 52 regions and nine provinces in one system; every match captured, including team sheets, disciplinary and goals.