Buckley wants improved youth coaching


Buckley, who retired in 2015 following a glittering 19-year playing career that saw him amass 72 senior international caps, believes the sub-par level of coaching at youth level has had a massive negative impact on the trajectory of the country's professional footballers.

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“I was coaching the second team here at AmaZulu, and I could see that the biggest problem is the training the young players are getting,” explained former Borussia Dortmund and Martizburg United midfielder Buckley.

“In Germany, when a player turns 16 he’s ripe to play in the Bundesliga, it doesn’t take him one or two years to adapt. But here in South Africa we have players at 25-years-old becoming professional and still needing time to adapt – it shouldn’t be like that.

“It all boils down to the coaching. The Germans believe they will never sign you as a coach if you don’t have a UEFA A license, whether it’s under-8s, under-10s or under-12s, you have to have a UEFA A – which is the second highest [coaching] license you can get, after that it’s the Pro License.

“Over here we have coaches who have CAF D and CAF C – and I see it. What are they teaching the ‘laaities’ [kids]? It’s not something they are going have to produce when the player becomes a professional, which is very sad. Of course [we need an improvement].”

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Having spent 17 years plying his trade in Germany, where youth development is the catalyst to the international success of many of their current and former stars, the 39-year-old Buckley has called on domestic clubs to implement more stringent measures on requirements for appointing youth coaches.

“[South African] clubs need to be strict and say, ‘okay, if we’re going to sign a coach for under-15s, he has to have this license – he can’t be a friend of mine or a cousin of mine, he must be professional,” he added.

“When we had that KZN [international] tournament last year, I sat in a room speaking to all the [youth] coaches from Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal, etc. and they said they will never sign a coach if he doesn’t have a UEFA A license, no matter which age group. That should happen here in South Africa.

“At the end of the day, the boys are going to get quality training from coaches and produce quality performances under those coaches.”

SAFA have since vowed to produce more educated coaches at youth level, as well as across the SAB and ABC Motsepe League, but professional clubs in the PSL have yet to take greater measures in ensuring their first-team and youth-team coaches have higher-level coaching education.