If South Africa wants to succeed in the Fifa World Cup they should copy the French model of football development.
This was the assertion made by Laliga Africa director Antonio Barradas when speaking on the sidelines of a Laliga press briefing at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in Melrose Arch to North Eastern Tribune.
Barradas, whose Johannesburg office is now entering its third year of existence, said after more than 20 years of failing to qualify for the World Cup, France took a bold step and went back to the drawing board to plan and strategise for qualification in years to come.
The French came up with a plan to build academies in various parts of the country that would take in youngsters, house, feed and school them and develop their football appetite. The core of these players was kept together until professional maturity.
Barradas said this paid off, with the first graduates of this programme being the group of Zinedine Zidane that captured the World Cup on home soil in 1998 and ever since, the French have never looked back and remain one of the top footballing nations in Europe.
“South African can adopt the same model as well,” said Barradas.
“They can open football academies, one each in the nine provinces of the country as a starting point and ensure that the boys in those academies literally eat, sleep and play football.
“As Laliga, we’re here to help. We’re prepared to partner with Safa to make this dream a reality. It’s the reason why we opened offices in Johannesburg, so we can help South Africa to develop its football. They can come up with a plan and we will provide the necessary resources to achieve the dream.”
Barradas said Laliga had started its development ambitions together with Safa and some of those initiatives included the Pass the Ball initiative which was held in Alexandra last year where more than 1 000 children each received soccer balls and their teachers and coaches were upskilled in their coaching skills.
Pass the Ball will be an ongoing initiative in other parts of the country with the idea to ensure that children begin to dream and play all things football. “We have come on-board to sponsor various grassroots soccer tournaments such as the KwaMahlobo Games in Soweto and others in Kuruman and De Aar in the Northern Cape and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.”
He said Laliga was prepared to fly in top Spanish coaches to train grassroots coaches, teachers and children. Barradas added that they would also take some of the top talented children to Spain to undergo further training with various academies and professional clubs.
Without wanting to disclose his name, Barradas said they had identified a boy from Kuruman who will soon be jetting out to Spain.
What do you think is key ingredient missing in the Safa football development puzzle? Tell us by commenting on our Facebook page.