The national Under-17 squad qualified for the 16th edition of the CAF Under-17 Championships to be held in Niger next year after overcoming Egypt over the weekend.
Amajimbos join seven other countries that will be bidding to finish in the top four of that tournament and proceed to the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Chile later next year.
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All the boys in coach Molefi Ntseki's squad are of school-going age having all been born in 1998. Safa president Danny Jordaan called on this group of teenagers to be aware that a football career is not an alternative to education.
“I want to say to them [Amajimbos] that a football career is not an alternative to education,” says Jordaan.
“This whole question of a healthy mind and a healthy body is very important because if you look at teams that have won the World Cup and you look at the education background of those players you will find that those teams were the majority of players who have university degrees who have won the World Cup.
“So we must not think that being a good player is an alternative to education. When you are 35 in football you must retire but the general retirement age is 65 so what are you going to do for the next 30 years? So therefore it is not a choice between the two and it is important that we have to find the balance between the two. We want good citizens with skills and talent.
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“It is time that South African football also produces CEOs of major banks, doctors … we had a Doctor on the field already but we want a medical doctor. When we announce our teams we also want to make mention that he is a doctor, lawyer or an advocate … those are the things that we want.
“Education is important and don’t neglect your schools. If you train, take your books with you. If we can, we will provide the additional teaching staff because we don’t want them to get an idea that they must forget about school and just play football. Education is important and we are with the parents on this,” says Jordaan, whose sentiments were echoed by Denis Mumble, the Safa CEO.
“We have had some preliminary discussions with some of the ministry’s staff in the department to try and also assist us in our communication and dealings with the Department of Education. Those discussions are still ongoing because when the teams come into camp we will also try, especially in crucial periods when they get into exam times, that we provide them with tutors but it is a bit of a difficult situation because they come from different systems and schools and are in different phases of schooling,” adds Mumble.
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“Education is something that we always take into account, even when we schedule with our teams, so that we don’t interfere with their schooling. For those who have had to miss school we have had communication with their principals to make sure that they are given an opportunity to catch up when they come back, but all these things are always ongoing in the background.”