By FOCUS REPORTER
THE South African Football Association’s (SAFA) Grassroots Development Programme is in full swing, and this time the event moved to the SAFA Amajuba Region in Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal on Saturday at the Osizweni Stadium.
After another week of a course for the 26 instructors, all locals, the final day was set for the Grassroots Festival. This is the ninth Province where Grassroots Festival has been held following sessions in, among others, Pretoria/Tshwane, Mafikeng, Limpopo, Kimberly, Free State and Mpumalanga.
The Grassroots Festival is a programme that was introduced by FIFA. The idea is to introduce children, both boys and girls, between the ages of six and twelve to the game of football. They are taught in various disciplines of the sport including heading, ball juggling, shooting, dribbling and goalkeeping.
It was first staged in South Africa in May last year in Mafikeng, and SAFA has not looked back since. The programme is now run by SAFA’s technical director Serame Letsoaka.
“This is the 8th Festival, and in my view this has gone better than the others, it clearly shows we are improving with every event and that can only be good for the recipients, the little ones. Today we had 367 children going through the drill. The next two weeks the instructors/coaches will be sending us their programmes as to how they will roll out this program. In my view this kind of activity is helping in that there is a closer interaction between the coach and the children, also because these children come here in different ages, the coaches are better placed to guide them as per their age groups because they (instructors) understand how the children of a certain age respond to a drill,” said Letsoaka.
The Grassroots Festival in Newcastle was opened by the President of SAFA Amajuba Region, Velaphi Kubeka.
“My dream is that the Local Football Associations (LFA) of Newcastle, Dannhauser and Utrecht could form an Under 12 team as part of the programme to help development in this country. What we saw here was a real eye-opener and an incentive to the LFA ’s to surge on ahead. I am excited, and I believe it will go a long way in helping the little ones grow into the sport. Right now we have lost our children to play stations, crime and many other forms of entertainment, so we need to come up with strategies that will help parents. If we want to talk about serious development you need to give a child at least 20-thousand hours of training, so we would like to partner with the police so we can help reduce crime. I will keep on preaching this gospel of development throughout the province, and someday it will bear fruit,” said Kubeka.
The next stop for the SAFA Grassroots Development Festival is George in the Western Cape on February 21.