IT IS widely believed that football development is at best an afterthought in this country.
But SuperSport's Tottenham Hotspur Academy, the newly crowned champions of the Metropolitan Premier Cup, have continuously defied this assertion.
While Ajax Cape Town have been the undisputed rulers of this tournament, having won it a record four times, defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns and United have been catching up.
What sets Gaetano Tembo and Kwanele Kopo's lads apart is the fact they have achieved this in the same year that the senior United team were crowned Absa Premiership champions.
The academy also routinely churns out some of the best young players in SA, who often go on to set the pace elsewhere, for example Feyenoord's trio of Philani Khwela, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Kermit Erasmus, and one of this season's hottest debutants, Thandani Ntshumayelo.
Ntshumayelo's first season in the PSL has been so outstanding it is clear that it is only a matter of time before he leaves these shores for one of football's bigger stages.
The next stop for the academy is the Castle Regional League playoffs, which will see them promoted to the Vodacom League if they win.
Said United's David Sikhosana: "It is wonderful for us that the youngsters have emulated their big brothers. We would like to salute our coaches, Gaetano and Kwanele."