Posted in Features, News, Youth Academy on Jan 02, 2023.
Head of Technical and Youth Development Academy
End of Year Review
All of our youth teams ended the year very well.
Credit must first be given to our Executive Chairman, Dr. Kaizer Motaung for the investment he put into youth development. We also want to thank the board of directors because running a youth programme is very expensive. It’s not only about the monetary side of investment, it is also about human resources that are put into it; the type of coaches that we bring in, the type of players we recruit to the academy with a very clear objective of what we want to achieve at Kaizer Chiefs. We are thankful to all the staff members involved in making it a success.
Our recruitment has been going very well. We have brought in the type of players that fit in with Kaizer Chiefs’ style of play. We have the Under 13s, Under 15s, Under 17s and Under 19s
When you look at the Under 13s, every year we recruit players for the following year because currently we don’t have Under 8 and Under 6 teams. In the past two years our Under 13 has won the league which shows that our recruitment has been very good in terms of bringing quality players to the Club.
At the end of every year we follow a programme called ‘Retain, Promote and Release’. ‘Retain’ means we keep a player who still qualifies to play for the same age group and has the necessary qualities; ‘Promote’ means we promote a player with better qualities that can help him compete in the next phase of our development. We “Release’ when our quarterly reports (which we do for every player) has shown no progression and coaching interventions have failed, we let the player go. Before a player is released the coach will compile a report laying out the factors they identified as being particular challenges for the player. This is our intervention intended to help him become better.
The Under 13 coach, Jimmy Jambo has been with the team for some time now. Because of the progression we have in our development, Coach Jimmy will also always coach the Under 15s because we follow the players into the next phase so that you are able to improve on certain tactical aspects of a particular individual’s game.
The Under 17s are coached by Tshidiso Letsholonyane, with coach Jimmy as his assistant, to keep the continuity, and then David Mathebula is the Under-19 coach, with Coach Tshidiso as his assistant.
The most important phase of development is the last phase, the Under-17s and Under-19s. When you look ack at some of the Kaizer Chiefs graduates who have played for the Club, many of them had already played in the first team when they were 17 or 18, so at this stage it’s all about talent so we are looking at these age groups to be ready for the first team.
Keeping everything connected, David Mathebula is the assistant to the DDC (DStv Diski Challenge) Reserve Team coach, Vela Khumalo, illustrating the conveyor belt from the Under-13s through to the DDC team.
Age-Group Teams’ Success
The Under-13s won the league back to back and received a trophy for this year’s title. The under 17s won the Under 17 Youth Cup under Coach Tshidiso, which is a big improvement. The Under 17s are our best team but they weren’t achieving that much but this year they won the Cup and finished second in the league. The Under19s won the Engen Knockout Challenge Cup for Gauteng, which qualified them for the national Engen Champ of Champs competition. We brought all our development coaches together to make a very strong technical team for the tournament under Head Coach Mathebula and we won the Champ of Champs. This was a very great success because over the years we had never even won the Gauteng provincial leg before.
I’d say about 70% of the players that played in the Engen Champ of Champs are players in the DDC for the Reserve Team because, for us, it is not about age, it’s about talent and quality. That success gave that70% motivation going into the Shield Cup and they ended up winning the shield for the second time. They had previously won it under coach Arthur Zwane and now Coach Vela has won it.
Because of the quality that was assembled for the Engen competition and the DDC, we saw three of our Reserve Team players getting promoted to the first team, Mduduzi Shabalala, Samkelo Zwane and Wandile Duba. From 1 December they started training full time with the first team squad, because before that Mdu and Duba were still at school and writing exams. Samkelo will train with the first team but still play for the DDC team.
We are very happy to see our development players progressing to the first team because players these days are very expensive so it’s good to develop players that understand the culture and tradition of the Club.
We give credit to all the development coaches who contributed to the progress of these players, but also commend the first team coach for his understanding of the development of players at our academy. After proper profiling and assessment Coach Zwane identified these three players for promotion to his squad.
DStv Diski Challenge
A big part of DDC players making it to the first team is the pathway of Under 17 players to the DDC team, because of the quality we have in our academy ranks. We are currently 6th on the log, five points behind the top team. We started the season a bit slowly but if you look at our last three matches we did very well, collecting maximum points. We are pleased with the improvement because winning matches breeds confidence in the players, the coaching staff and the supporters. We had five players from the team representing South Africa in the COSAFA Under 20 in eSwatini and another three representing the national Under 23 Olympic team.
So, when you look at our development structures, you can see that we are developing good quality players, not only for Kaizer Chiefs but for the national teams as well.
As we know in football, talent is not enough and we are aware that youngsters go through various stages of development, so education plays a very important role. The Club works with the parents to ensure the player goes to school and maintains discipline, which is essential to success in football. That is the reason our matriculants could not train full time with the first team. Their schoolwork came first.
In the other age groups we get quarterly reports from their schools, which go along with our quarterly football reports. That way we keep the parents fully informed of the development of the player. If an academy player does well enough at school to be accepted for higher education, the Club takes care of all the logistics pertaining to admission and registration on behalf of the player.
We give awards to all departments of the team, such as goalkeeper of the year, best defender, best midfielder, top scorer etc. We want to motivate everybody to strive to do better and these awards give incentive to players, no matter their positions on the field.
To conclude, we are very pleased with where we are at the moment and our wonderful staff are all hungry to improve and evolve in order to keep pace with the times with the intention of producing future stars to represent this great Club.