bid to halt banana slip

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Banana Banana's failure to qualify for this year's Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup finals in France has prompted Safa in KwaZulu-Natal to look at ways and means of developing the sport.

Banana were booted out in the first stages of the African qualifiers last week.

Safa executive member Alpha Mchunu, who is also the president of the organisation's southern region, said they had decided to establish beach soccer leagues in the near future that would produce quality players to represent the country.

He said the leagues formed part of their beach soccer development programme, which included the training of former football greats.

"We have already trained 12 coaches to help us develop the sport. Our main purpose is to have these leagues up and running, probably by June this year. But the full programme will be announced soon," said Mchunu.

Among former soccer players that have been trained are Sipho Zimba, Tsepo Ntsoane, Nhlanhla Mshibe, Sazi Ngubane, Muzi Afrika and Ishmael Khoza. Mchunu said schools formed an integral part of development.

"We will have schools leagues and a non-school one.

"Schools leagues will be divided into age groups so that we will have players produced all the time from young ages," he said.

Mchunu said Safa would meet all the coaches next Tuesday to give them timeframes as to when the leagues should be up and running.

"We want South Africa to be competitive, especially against other African countries. Last week, the team that represented us played well, but we did not make the African qualifiers, which prompted the need for the development of the players," he said.

Mchunu said they had initially introduced players such as Mark Fish, Mark Williams, Gary Johnson and Mark Batchelor to get the interest of young players into the sport, because the country wants to host the 2011 Fifa tournament. Two weeks ago, eThekwini city manager Mike Sutcliffe announced that Durban would be bidding for the 2011 Beach Soccer World Cup and the International Olympic Committee Congress the same year.