The Urban Warriors have finally resigned themselves to playing in the National First Division following months of legal battles involving the much-publicised Tendai Ndoro registration saga, with their depleted team now preparing for life in South Africa’s second tier.
Ajax are well-known for their academy and production of fine young talent, a model which fellow Cape NFD club Ubuntu have also instilled since the opening of their own academy in 2011. Co-owner and coach Prince is concerned that Ajax’s relegation will affect their well-known practices of nurturing young talent.
“Ajax dropping down to the NFD is definitely a concern as they now won’t have the ability to fund and do the things they’ve done,” Prince tells KickOff.com. “I want them to be successful, as that pushes us to be successful. They’ve been the standard bearer of on-field development and they’ve been the ones we’ve been chasing, so now we’ve got to try match what they’ve been doing on the field. They’ve produced players who have played all over the country, so that’s our challenge. I hope they still continue with their academy as Ubuntu needs them to be strong to help us be as strong as we can possibly be.”
The Western Cape lost Cape Town All Stars, who have been renamed TS Galaxy and relocated to Mpumalanga, but gained Cape Umoya United – previously Platinum Stars – meaning there are still five Cape clubs from the province competing across the Absa Premiership and NFD. Ajax, Ubuntu, Cape Umoya and Stellenbosch are in the second tier, and Cape Town City are the sole representatives in the topflight.
Prince feels the competition is good for the region, and hopes his club’s youngsters will benefit from the higher level of competition provided by these sides this season.
“Losing All Stars was a bummer, but having Cape Umoya move down here was good to fill that void, so that at least we still have five teams around,” he said. “We were really pushing for Steenberg to get promoted, even from a financial standpoint, as we spend a lot on travelling to away games, so the more away games we have in town, the better.
“A big thing we struggle with is the availability of stadiums and training facilities to play on. But we’re excited to have more teams around, even from an academy standpoint. If Cape Umoya can build something significant, it will only benefit us as it will give us more talented players for our youngsters to play against, so I’m hoping they’ll do that, and hope Cape Town City will continue to build theirs.”
Ubuntu, who finished 14th on the NFD log last season, kick off their 2018/19 campaign away at Richards Bay on Sunday, 19 August.