Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says local soccer is in the strongest position it has been in for many years.
“Players now, are not going overseas as often,” said Igesund on Monday in Soweto, where two new junior soccer leagues were launched by the SA Football Association (SAFA), using R28m from the 2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy Trust.
Igesund said the platform provided by development plans and the South African Premier Soccer League would breed success in the years to come.
The tide had turned, and experience abroad was no longer the ultimate prize, he said.
“Previously we wanted our players to go overseas to gain the experience and come back for South Africa to benefit.
“I think South Africa can benefit now by players not going overseas.
“There's enough money now in the Premier Soccer League and our league is one of the best run leagues in the world. We've got a lot of money coming into the game now through the various sponsors.”
Players would go through many years of intensive training and development starting at a young age, before they would be ready to attract big clubs outside Africa, according to Igesund.
“No player at 13 or 14 will go overseas to play for a club.
“He will go at 22 or 23 when he gets recognised for the good work he's doing in South Africa, and the good work he's doing as a player.
“Whether Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea or Barcelona buy him, it will be after he's been through development and he knows how to play.”
Despite the SAFA announcement to start programmes from under-13 level, Igesund said children should be groomed from an even earlier age.
“I'm talking about development from grassroots level - from under-sevens, under-eights - that's really a lot of years of development and the player learning how to play the game.”
Igesund also highlighted the need for players to come through the various age groups.
“If we have an under-17 team playing the same way the national team is playing, it will progress the player further and further.
“And by the time the players come to the senior national team, they won't have to be trained for six months to make them play a certain way.
"So that's why the team has to be groomed from grassroots level.”
HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you agree with Gordon Igesund's views? Or can local players learn more by heading overseas? Send your thoughts to Sport24.