Liverpool to aid SA development


The Liverpool FC International Football Academy is the club's first coaching programme in South Africa and aims to provide opportunities for young players and coaches to develop and have a positive impact on the game in the country.

Hoy Park Sport Development Academy was launched last year at Soccerex by Paul Cardoso.

This initiative will only focus on players who are in the age group of five to 13 years old. These soccer schools will seek to improve football skills and help students hone technical, tactical, physical and social aspects of the game through age-specific drills.

Carlos Catalino, the Hoy Park Sport project manager, said this is groundbreaking news for South Africa at large, and they hope this will give the nation more support towards achieving their goals set out by SAFA for 'Vision 2022'.

"The idea of international Academy is to provide one thing which is to give our boys an opportunity. On 13 November 2013, KwaZulu-Natal provincial government took to the cabinet to financially support the construction of an International Training Centre with Hoy Park Football Academy, which is planned to become a flagship of youth for South Africa and will offer the country a lasting legacy to the people of eThekwini Municipality and the province of KwaZulu-Natal," said Catalino.

On 5 June this year, the eThekwini Municipality council confirmed their support of the project, thus allowing all necessary processes to proceed to ensuring the construction of the facility.

As part of this agreement, we first saw the ELan International Durban Under-19 Tournament which was played in four venues from July to August with six top international teams and which included the South Africa Under-19 team. With Hoy Park taking part, players were scouted throughout KZN and it was led by technical director Paul Cardoso and Gugu Marawa.

"Carlos scouted in all regions of KZN and he trained 370 coaches and we hope what he taught them will be seen in the players. In 46 days on the road, he brought in 123 boys to Durban where he hosted the camp and the final 23 were chosen. What we did in this process, we didn't only scout for the U19 tournament but also scouted players [who were born in] 96, 97, 98 and 99. A lot of people don't know," Catalino added.

"They were school players who played in this tournament and part of those players in those specific games were 15- and 16-year-olds. So the whole idea is a long-term project and it was not something that we scouted and there is no follow up. Players that were scouted had an opportunity to test themselves against the best young players in the world."

When the question was asked whether these plans will clash with SAFA's 'Masterplan', Cardoso said that will not be the case.

"First and foremost, this project is a SAFA project. It is bound to the SAFA 'Masterplan'. What SAFA wants is to have, tactically, to have a Provincial Academy with the best players of the province. We need to work with the regions to identify players for the good cause of South Africa and also with Vision 2022 in mind."

Dan White, the head of International Academies at Liverpool, added that former and present players will be used as role model for the attending students.

"In terms of the international Academy we develop the whole person, not just the player, through an all-round football education. We replicate the same practices that are delivered every week in Liverpool and we aim to develop ever player that we coach - both on and off the pitch.

"We're very excited to be able to announce our most recent partnership here in South Africa. We're excited because we know that we have a huge number of fans here and this project is a great opportunity to bring the club closer to those fans. We'll be providing opportunities for local players to learn to play the Liverpool way. And, we're also delighted to be working with the team here in Durban who have such great local knowledge and understanding of the game.

"In terms of the specific programmes, we will be delivering a series of soccer schools starting on December 6th here in Durban.

"As technical partners we will provide the coaching expertise and coaching staff to ensure the players get an exceptional footballing education on any of the LFC courses here in South Africa."

Other South African clubs who have joint ventures with European clubs are Mpumalanga Black Aces with Manchester City, Ajax Cape Town with Ajax Amsterdam, SuperSport United with Feyenoord and Bloemfontein Celtic with Sporting Lisbon.