Madibaz Football Club’s vision to promote the development of juniors in the metro is bearing fruit after the Nelson Mandela University U16 side won three titles this year.
This past weekend the team triumphed in the final of the Port Elizabeth Football Association (Pefa) Knockout Cup, adding to the titles they won in the Mayoral Cup and the Pefa U16 league.
The university are running teams in the Pefa U16 and U18 leagues, which Madibaz football manager Mark Tommy said were part of their objective to grow their own Soccer School of Excellence.
Besides the U16 team’s success this year, he said the U18s were always competitive in the various tournaments, invariably ending in the top three sides.
“Part of our vision is to create sustainable grassroots development in the city,” said Tommy. “To this end, the club initiated a joint venture with Ndzondelelo High by adopting two teams.
“Through the untiring efforts of teacher Dumisa Thys, this initiative is in its fifth year with the teams participating as Madibaz in the junior leagues.”
Tommy said he felt it could have massive spin-offs, both for Madibaz football and the game in the region.
“If these successes are anything to go by, just imagine what could be achieved through improved resourcing and joint ventures with commercial partners,” he added.
“I believe there is potential to turn a normal school venture into a football school of excellence programme.”
As there were limitations in university bursary funding to attract and retain the city’s top football talent, he said their key objective with Ndzondelelo was to encourage the pupils to become Mandela University students.
“That can only benefit the senior Madibaz team, as well as providing the pupils with access to higher education.”
He said they recruited only from Ndzondelelo, which added value to the school’s extramural curriculum.
“Hopefully this supports the school’s enrolment of talented footballers with academic competencies.”
Tommy said the Madibaz club also provided coaching opportunities.
“We have over the years focused on the skills development of the coaches recruited by Mr Thys.
“Former pupils such as Phumelelo Mvunyiswa and Asandile Gomba have worked as volunteer coaches and have become proficient through coaching and referees’ courses,” he said, pointing out that Mvunyiswa was on the Safa-NMB referees’ list officiating in the SAB Regional League.
Tommy said the success of the team and the programme bode well for Madibaz football, but admitted they also faced several issues.
“The retention of the players in the university programme is a huge challenge as other higher league clubs in the city often strive to recruit this potential.
“The advantages the university offer are exceptionally high standards of coaching and technical support, as well as the opportunity to study.”
He felt, however, that there would be benefits ahead, especially considering that compliance with the Safa Statutes and Vision 2022 required all clubs to have at least two junior teams.
“Herein lies the opportunity for football development at schools,” said Tommy.
“What Madibaz Football have been doing for the past five years has been visionary and has the potential to reshape the way we look at junior football in the local associations.”