Like him or hate him, but Ernst Middendorp deserves some credit for being a brave coach.
Admittedly, the Kaizer Chiefs mentor is not a likeable character, especially for the media.
But he doesn’t get much credit for giving young players an opportunity to play.
Since arriving at Chiefs in December last year, he’s played the likes of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (19), who unfortunately got injured and Njabulo Blom (also 19).
He threw in midfielder Keletso Sifama (16) against Bloemfontein Celtic in the Macufe Cup at the weekend.
In a country where a 24-year-old is regarded as a youngster, it’s refreshing to have some coaches that are willing to throw youngsters to the deep end. Middendorp has done it in official and friendly matches.
As I’ve always maintained, a footballer’s ability should matter than his/her age.
In response, Middendorp has credited the club’s academy coaches for developing some good players.
“There’s fantastic work being done at the academy under the leadership of Sundra Govinder and Arthur Zwane. They come from there,” said the German some months ago.
“I only take the risk and have the balls to bring them into the first team. But their preparation, it’s not the national team that does it or me, the people who do it are these guys in the academy.”
But at the end of the day, he’s the one – as he puts it, who’s got the “balls” to give them a run in the first team.
If you go back, he’s done the same for other players at his previous clubs.
In fact, I think Chiefs have some exciting youngsters and they could play a big role sooner rather than later, especially since they are being given a chance by the current technical team.
Of course there are other PSL coaches that aren’t scared to throw in the youngsters and they too should be commended.
It’s these sort of coaches that would help change our mentality regarding youngsters.
From calling them youngsters at 24, we would rightly refer to a youngster who’s 18.
By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa
Let me know what you think. I’m on Twitter (@ttm16) or email to email@example.com