Youth development is key to football - SAFA President

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pretoria - Investing in young soccer players is a key aspect to South Africa's football future, says the newly elected South African Football Association (SAFA) President Kirsten Nematandani.

"Without developing players from the regional structures you cannot get talented players that you need in the national team. You need to invest at grass roots level in order to produce a pool of talented players," he said.

According to Nematandani, who hails from Limpopo, this should be done with a development programme and coaches who understand the development of young players.

Nematandani, who heads the SAFA Referees Committee, was elected unopposed as the new SAFA President at a stormy Annual General Meeting (AGM), at the weekend.

Speaking to BuaNews, Nematandani said he would soon meet with Bafana Bafana's head coach Joel Santana and his technical team to find out the challenges hindering their achievements.

Santana has recently come under fire following the national team's string of poor performances especially after the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.

The SAFA President appealed to South Africans to continue supporting the national team, promising that he would do everything possible to turn the tide of South African football, including introducing sports scientists and psychologists to work with the players.

Nematandani said he was also planning to meet with President Jacob Zuma to assure him that the new SAFA leadership will not disappoint him and the country, as he was committed to taking the country's football to another level.

He said he would also organise a meeting with FIFA President Joseph Blatter to assure him that the new leadership was also committed to making the 2010 FIFA World Cup a success.

On Monday, Nematandani congratulated the Association's staff for a job well done at the AGM.

In a congratulatory note conveyed to staff members by the Association's Chief Executive Officer Raymond Hack, Nematandani said the adoption of the Annual Report and the Audited Financial statement by the General Council were an indication of the administration's diligent work.

He further urged the staff to disregard any negative reports about their future participation in the administration of football.

"We have achieved a lot in the past financial year through hard work and dedication of staff members, we have concluded all our competitions on time including the National Championships, and we have successfully implemented all projects of the association."

The new SAFA President also appealed for calm in the football family, adding that the future of the country's football is in the hands of the football leadership, and he urged the leadership to put the interest of the beautiful game first.

"Let us build from Dr Khoza and Dr Jordaan's handshake at the past AGM which indicates that we can still work together.
"As a responsible Football Association, we have a mandate to promote, advance, administer, coordinate and generally encourage the game of football in South Africa in accordance with the principles as laid down in the statutes of FIFA.

"The elections have come and gone, and it is time for the SAFA membership to roll our sleeves and pursue our mandate in terms of the constitution," said Nematandani.