It amazes me that every time Bafana Bafana fails in international competitions the issue of youth development is re-cycled and every time the 'experts' and media talk about youth development they get it completely wrong – “The Under-23 must play more games”, “We must enforce quota for Under-23 players in the Premier Soccer League / National First Division”, “We need school leagues”, “South African young players should play overseas”, “let's have Under-13 and Under-15 leagues”, etc.
The lack of understanding and confusion in regard to what proper youth development should be is scary. Any football literate from any of those successful football nations would precisely indicate that youth football development requires:
(1) Specialized and fully relevant coaching qualification;
(2) Early basic learning / multi-factor development, at Under-8 or earlier;
(3) Elite youth programs (outstanding talent);
(4) Progressive participation in competitions – from small sided games (Under-8 to Under-12) to diverse format competitive leagues / cups and international tournaments (Under-14 to Under-19);
(5) Effective policy of promoting the best young talent to professional clubs and national teams. There cannot be any exception from these pre- requisites.
How long will take for those involved with the development of South African football to learn and apply these strict principles?