Iron Lady in the hotseat

Mamelodi Sundowns

It is now almost a month since former Mamelodi Sundowns director Anastasia Tsichlas was appointed the chairperson of the Safa technical and medical committee.

With the national Under-23s inactive since failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, Bafana Bafana in a shambles, the country’s development in tatters and junior national teams nowhere, Tsichlas and her new committee have their work cut out.’s Zola Doda caught up with the Iron Lady.

Nastasia, congratulations on your new job. What is does it really entail?

Well, it’s not a job; it’s a position with responsibilities. What it entails are the technical aspects of the game including coaching, refereeing, medical departments and most importantly the development of coaching and refereeing.

As a former club owner, what do you make of the standard of coaching in the country?

I must say coaching has developed a lot since the old years, I can see that there’s a big difference. At the moment we have a lot of coaches with Level III and if you go to CAF, you find they have A and B License and here we have Level III. And those coaches with Level III are highly qualified but the problem is that they don’t get chances to coach even though they are knowledgeable.

The game today is very scientific and these coaches have learned all those things about the scientific aspects but they deserve a chance. There are only 16 PSL teams and that is a very small number and another 16 National First Division who are suffering because there is not enough money in that division. But if we can have a First Division League that is financially strong then they should be able to employ two assistant coaches and a goalkeeper coach. In that way we will have more people involved. But now the problem is that these coaches are not involved in that level.

What is the situation with the junior national teams? Who is coaching Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23?

At the moment we still have the same coaches but we have advertised other positions and we have received applications. The technical committee will sit with the CEO when we have finalised everything. We will have a shortlist and give it to the NEC to make a final decision.

Which positions have been advertised? And is Shakes Mashaba still Under-23 coach?

Yes, he is the coach but the Under-17 and Under-20 positions have been advertised.

Going forward what is the plan to keep the junior national teams active? The Under-23s haven’t played a match since December 2011 ...

This is something we are going to discuss in our first meeting. We need to study all the reports from the previous committee and make decisions later, including medical committee. We need to put structures in place first. We would like to see our coaches busy and getting more games from better quality oppositions.

The Under-23s are not active but the National First Division clubs are still obliged to use Under-23 players. Is that fair?

Those Under-23 players are supposed to be for development but at the end of the day, anyone who knows football knows that the Under-23 is not development. Development is Under-17 and Under-16 maybe Under-20. Not Under-23. When Messi was 21 he was already the best player in the world. If a player is over 20 years old there is so much you can teach them. It’s not as if those players are young. This notion that those Under-23 players are development, I don’t buy it, sorry.

But the main focus is to focus on Danny Jordaan’s vision which is to develop players who are younger than 15. We need to start young.

What is the committee going to do to make sure we qualify for the next Fifa World Cup in Russia?

Development is our number one priority. Some PSL clubs want to do development as well, some they do, some don’t. Those who don’t focus on development, maybe it has to do with finance.

Unfortunately most sponsors in this country are involved in cricket and rugby but the fact remains the number one sport in this country is football. No doubt about it. Sponsors have to think about football and it’s not right when a couple of teams have sponsors and the rest have nothing. These companies must understand football is the number one sport in this country. If all South Africans can take all their money out of the banks, 90 percent of those people will be football fans. They need to show us respect.

You know me, I love football very much and I can’t close my eyes and ignore the problems we are facing.

What is Lucas Radebe’s role going to be in the setup of the committee?

Well, Lucas is going to play a big role with his experience. At the moment I can’t say more until we meet. I’ve spoken to him and he knows I think he is important and we can learn a lot from him. He is a role model to many youngsters.

What are your plans with women’s football, specifically Banyana Banyana and Basetsana?

We have done a lot since we started women’s football and those girls can achieve more in future. The next step is to qualify for the Under-17 Fifa World Cup in Costa Rica and I will be so happy to see our team qualify. But there is no doubt that women’s football in his country is developing. In 2012 we qualified for the London Olympics and that was a step forward and we were all happy with that. Now our next step is to achieve more.

Last but not least, do you miss the day to running of a football club?

[Laughs] Yes, I do. But this challenge is even bigger because it involves the whole country. You know me and challenges go hand in hand. My focus now is working for this committee; we need to focus on our work and vision and I believe that we can achieve all the things we have set out to achieve.

Nastasia, thanks a lot for taking time to talk to

The pleasure is mine.