Soccer

SAFA aims to be a world force

2012-02-02 15:29
Robin Petersen (File)

Johannesburg - The South African Football Association (SAFA) laid out plans for all its national sides to be in the top three in Africa by 2020 and inside the world's top 20 in the longer term.

The concept was unveiled on Thursday by the association's chief executive, Robin Petersen, who briefed the media on the findings of the first technical symposium held last weekend.

"The first step to thinking big is to set goals," said Petersen.

"We want to be in the top three at all national levels on the continent and inside the top 20 in the world.

"We have been there once and now need to be there consistently - and to do that, you have to put in place structures that will help you achieve this."

The symposium, highly rated by the members who were present, was initiated by SAFA following last year's dismal showing by the national teams.

Bafana Bafana failed again to qualify for the second successive continental showpiece, the Africa Cup of Nations, while the junior sides - the SA Under-23s and SA Under-20s - failed in their respective Olympic qualifiers and regional COSAFA Championship tournaments.

The first phase of planning, termed the 'discovery and diagnosis', involved the association engaging with coaches and former players in candid discussions on how the local game should be run.

Bafana Bafana have steadily declined since the golden era of the 1990s, when they reached their highest ranking of 16th in the world, despite the Premier Soccer League (PSL) brand prospering financially in recent years.

From March until the second symposium in July, SAFA will be aiming at creating a "comprehensive" strategic plan in their second phase of 'decision and deployment'.

The third and final phase of the plan, 'decision and deployment' will be the implementation.

"We obviously can't do this by walking alone," Petersen said.

"I believe that with the symposium we will work together in finding a solution.

"There are seven areas that we are working towards and we will have a philosophy that we all agree on."

The focus will start at grass root level, where SAFA wants to implement competitiveness from an early age, while stimulating school and academy soccer.

More importantly, data will be captured of all the coaches and players in the country, ensuring that every one of them is recorded in the association's base.

This will be crucial in helping curb the age-cheating pandemic that has been a huge factor in African football.

"Every single talent in this country must be captured," said SAFA technical director Serame Letsoaka.

"We must know what talent is within our schools and academies and make sure that 80 per cent get to make to the national teams.

"Age cheating happens because of lack of competitions (at youth level).

"If, for example, there is nothing in the Under-16s a player will cheat to be accommodated at whatever age group and we need to fight strongly with this issue."

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