Tovey: SAFA meeting a success
Neil Tovey (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The recently concluded technical symposium held by the SA Football Association (SAFA) could just be the turning point in the direction of South African football, according to former captain Neil Tovey.
"I obviously won't say what was discussed, that is why the press was not in there, but it was a success," Tovey said on Sunday.
The two-day technical Indaba, that also included personnel from the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations squad - in South Africa's national side's most successful era - ended on Saturday.
Also, Augusto Palacios, the former Bafana Bafana coach and head of a productive youth development structure at Orlando Pirates, was present.
"We had an open talk with some of the coaches and a lot of people (involved in local soccer), so it was not just the AFCON 1996 squad," Tovey added.
"We discussed a lot of things and talked about the way forward for the game."
The SA Football Association (SAFA) insisted on having the symposium following the plight of national sides, with Bafana's dismal showing last year where they failed to qualify for the currently underway AFCON tournament in central Africa.
The SA Under-23s failed to reach this year's Olympic Games in London, while the SA Under-20s were eliminated from the regional COSAFA championships in the first round, both failures in December.
This is despite the continuing growth of the domestic Premier Soccer League, which last year signed another multi-billion rand television deal.
SAFA described the debates as being "open and robust" while hailing the moment as being historic and a turning point for South African soccer history in a statement former national coach, Ted Dumitru, who was also SAFA's director of coaching in the mid-90s, said it was good that the association accepted the need to have such a technical gathering.
"It was absolutely needed. I can't say what came out of there as we've been asked not to disclose until a press conference on February 2," he said.
"Some countries have it twice a year - at the start and at conclusion to see what has happened.
"I'm glad that the current SAFA leadership have recognised and accepted a proposal to have a symposium."
Dumitru added that it would have been an ultimate success had the PSL coaches also been a part, with SA football still in search of an identity.
"The meeting included visitors from outside the country and all agreed on things, though, obviously the solution has to come from inside (the country) and not outside," Dumitru said.
"One regret was not having PSL coaches, something the SAFA leadership will have to look at because it is impossible to build an identity without unity.
"I think that is very important for the development of our own type of football and identity."
The second symposium, however, has been scheduled for July in the off-season, with SAFA expected to confirm that later.
"I believe that this is the first necessary step towards the realisation of the stated objective to create a rich pipeline of talent for our national teams," said SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani in a statement.
"The people gathered here are best placed to conduct an honest assessment of our game and offer advice on how to address the identified challenges."