South African football is at a low ebb when it comes to producing players for the top leagues overseas. ThisIsFootball.Africa decided to tackle this issue by speaking to former football people, players and coaches about how we develop players and if we are still able to produce players for the Top leagues.
Farouk Abrahams, the 2002 World Cup goalkeeper coach for Bafana Bafana who now runs a SAFA accredited goalkeeper academy (FAGA) at a local club Wynberg St. Johns, says that now, developing and producing players for the top European Leagues is a just pipe dream.
“The days of us developing players for top leagues are long gone, it’s just a bit of a pipe dream at the moment,” Farouk Abrahams told ThisIsFootball.Africa.
“Every country, every sporting nation and every decade there is a group of players that reach the top. We had in it 1996, there we had a golden generation that won the AFCON and qualified for the World Cup. Then the next generation that came along, like Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy, Jabu Pule, Matthew Booth and David Kannemeyer, they were players that came through to a certain extent because of the 1996 generation. The top leagues then opened for players like that because they had the individual ability to go play at the highest level and SA players had a good reputation because of the 1996 guys. When that goes you must work on the next generation. This then needs to happen all the time, there has got to be a chain of development and structure that is able to produce the future stars of the game on a regular basis. Just like they have in most European countries.”
The 68-year-old Abrahams was born in Wynberg before the Group Areas Act affected the 12-year-old him and his family and they eventually ended up on the dusty streets of Mannenberg. He says Manenberg changed a lot of people, but football saved him.
“This is the problem we’ve got; the chain of development is not structured as it was previously,” continued the former Chippa United Coach.
“There is a lot more knowledge available today, which makes it even more surprising that we still don’t produce enough top youngsters anymore. Because a lot more courses are being conducted which means we are producing more coaches at the lower levels, amateur levels and development levels. But is the chain connected to the top, that’s the big thing. We have to look at how we can connect the grassroots level to the international scene. It’s all about golden generations, we can’t have one player making it all the way to the top, it needs to be a group of players because that will benefit the national team as well.”
Farouk grew up supporting Cape Town Spurs, who were at the time the top team in the Federation Professional league. It was always his dream to play for them even though he had options like Hellenic and Cape Town City at the time. In 1976 he signed with Cape Town Spurs and his coach threw him in the deep end for his pro debut at the age of 20. Abrahams dream was fulfilled.