Schools battle for national U-16 title

FOOTBALL development in the country might not be at the level many feel it should be, but efforts are being made to identify raw talent at school level.

FOOTBALL development in the country might not be at the level many feel it should be, but efforts are being made to identify raw talent at school level.

The Metropolitan Under-16 national championship will see players from 18 schools, two each from the nine provinces, sweating it out to be crowned champions of the yearly event.

The tournament kicks off today at Matlosana and Alabama stadiums in Klerksdorp and the final will be played on Saturday.

The Rosina Sedibane High School team from Laudium won the title last year after defeating Harmony Academy from Virginia in the Free State 3-2 in the final.

Themba Tshabalala, national coordinator of the South African Schools Football Association, said the tournament was vital for football development in the country.

"The tournament itself has produced some good players like Mandla Masango of Kaizer Chiefs and Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates, among others," Tshabalala said.

Mike Tlhaka, the schools football selector, said national teams benefit from these tournaments.

"Most of the players in the national Under-20 squad that is currently in Egypt at the Fifa World Youth Championship went through our structures," Tlhaka said.

"It's just unfortunate that most PSL clubs don't attend these tournaments because there is a lot of talent.

"The only teams that show interest are SuperSport United, Jomo Cosmos and Ajax Cape Town, and more should follow suit."

He said former professional footballers should adopt a school to coach and augment development. Tlhaka said they were planning to create a database containing details of all the players, starting from Under-12 level, to discourage age cheats.

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