Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane on Tuessday reassured the public that student l.
THE Jet Club Rookie competition is a good concept but in its current form does not help football development in the country.
The competition, introduced nine years ago, rewards outstanding players who make their debut in the Premiership.
Though development coaches who spoke to Sowetan yesterday acknowledged the clothing retailer for the initiative, they called for an age limit on players in the competition.
The coaches said only players who are under the age of 20 should be considered.
Thabo Mongalo was the latest recipient of the award, winning it in November.
He took home R5000 and the SuperSport United striker could win a further R50000 as his feat automatically qualifies him for the Club PSL Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season.
Mongalo is 25 years old.
Though the coaches say they fully understand what the word rookie means, the awards should be given to genuinely young players who are new to the PSL.
Mamelodi Sundowns head of development Ted Dumitru said the competition embarrassed the local game.
Lionel Messi scooped the world's highest football accolade - the Fifa player of the year award - for the current season. He is only 22.
"I feel ashamed about these awards and I'm happy that you are writing something about this competition," Dumitru said.
"The organisers of this competition should reward players who are under the age of 20. These should be youngsters who have demonstrated a certain level of dynamism in the game.
"There are more than 230 players who are under the age of 20 making the grade in big leagues around the world.
"The whole thing comes back to the poor development structures in the country. We need to readjust our mentality and start taking football development seriously."
Dumitru said we should work hard to develop young players like Emmanuel Mbola, the Zambia left-back who made his debut at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola at the tender age of 16. Mbola became the second-youngest player to play at the biennial African competition after Gabon striker Nzighou Chiva, who made his debut in January 2000 in Kumasi at 16 years, three months and 30 days.
Another youngster worth his salt in Angola is Ghana's Andre "Dede" Ayew, whose goal on Tuesday against Burkina Faso fired the Black Stars into the Afcon quarterfinals.
Andre, 20, is the son of the legendary Abedi "Pele" Ayew.
Kaizer Chiefs' Under-13 coach Jacob "Terror" Sephooa supported Dumitru.
"Why can't these awards be given to much younger players?" he asked. "Don't tell me that a player who is over 20 is a youngster.
"When I arrived at (Orlando) Pirates to coach them in the early 90s I found old players like Bashin Mahlangu, but I insisted that we signed a young player.
"I remember Aubrey Lekoane who came in at younger age and taught some of the old players a lesson or two," said Sephooa, who also coached Chiefs' senior side.
Farouk Khan of Stars of Africa academy said the competition underlined the lack of football development in the country.
"It is laughable to call a 23-year-old a youngster in football," Khan said. "I think it undermines what the players who are under the age of 20 are doing in the PSL. It will be good if we can focus on the 17-, 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds."
Development coach Mandla Mazibuko of the once-famed Transnet Football School of Excellence said: "If you give a 25-year-old this award, what message are you sending to a player who is under the age of 20?
"Granted, this 25-year-old player is a rookie in the Premiership but he competes against an 18-year-old rookie, who has the advantage here?
"We need to recognise genuine newcomers, youngsters in football. These are players such as Bongani Theletsane of Jomo Cosmos and Coldrin Coetzee of Platinum Stars. To me the current competition does not make sense at all."
Africa Sport technical director Harold "Jazzy Queen" Legodi said the people responsible for the competition were misinterpreting the word rookie.
"The problem with us is that a player is still a youngster at 22. It would be nice if we would have a young player of the year award for players under the age of 20 years."
AmaZulu striker Bradley Ritson won one of the monthly awards last year at the age of 27. But the organisers of the competition received some praise from the coaches for considering players they believe rightfully deserved the awards.
These players include Andile Jele, 19, George Lebese, 20, Masibusane Zongo, 19, and Thulani Serero, 19.
Siphelele Mthembu was the overall winner of the competition last year.
Jet Club manager Antashia Sassman said the coaches' suggestions were open for discussion.
"Obviously, we will want to listen to what they are coming with and tell us why we should restructure the competition. But there is nothing I can say now," Sassman said yesterday.