Football in South Africa is the most widely watched and played sport, more especially in the township where street football is fashionable and well-liked and where some of the best players around the world and in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) started to showcase their talents.
Lesotho senior men’s national football team head coach, Thabo Senong reckons that the concept of street football can still be used as one of the best methods to produce “exceptional talents”.
The term street football can be defined as a style of play that requires creativity, skill, precision, and agility. A game of football played on the streets usually with bricks as goalposts on each side, a free-style type of a game where players have to think on their feet as it is fast-paced.
“Street football concept can still be one of the best methods to produce exceptional talents. Creativity, no time, no space. May touches, freedom to dribble and independence,” said Senong.
“We need to recreate the training syllabus in those academies and look at reproducing street football elements using various small-sided games that promotes lots of freedom, skills, creativity, and 1v1 situations so we can produce exceptional talents,” added the highly-rated former South African national under-20 team – Amajita mentor.
Senong was appointed Likuena head coach in August 2019 replacing Moses Maliehe, who had overseen the team since 2016.
“I think we neglected the teachings of the late Ted Dumitru. He understood the football qualifiers of an African child. He knew what an African child needed technically. That’s one of the contributing factors.
Dumitru won four League titles, back-to-back with Kaizer Chiefs between 2004 and 2005 and with Mamelodi Sundowns in 1998 and 1999 as well as multiple cup competitions with both clubs.
“Unlocking reinforced defensive make-up requires teams to have players who can apply body feints, disguises, dribbling, change of direction, and combination plays,” added the 39-year-old coach.
“The solution is lots of talent activation at grassroot level (5-12 years). Lots of SSGs with minimal coaching.
Senong is an experienced coach, a student of the game and he briefly worked as the Bafana Bafana assistant coach under former coaches Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba and Stuart Baxter.
Amajita under his leadership, qualified for the Fifa U-20 World Cup back-to-back in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
“We are now developing the likes of David Beckham’s, don’t get me wrong, David is a great player, but we need to export something unique with flair, creativity and 1v1 dominance,” concluded the Soweto-born coach.
According to HoustonStreetSoccer.com, the advances of street football training include; allowing players to play and make quick decisions without continuous interruptions. Players learn very quickly that they can make mistakes and make up for that mistake.
“Due to the size of the field and the numbers of players playing there are many opportunities for ball contact and footwork. Communication skills are also enhanced as it is crucial to communicate with your teammates in this small-sided game.”
Physical – improves leg strength and all-around fitness. Player’s stamina will improve because of the lack of stoppages.
Technical – improves shooting, dribbling, and passing techniques.
Tactical – allows players to adjust from defending to attacking while also giving support and balance.
Psychological – requires focusing and adjusting to a new team or opponent quickly. This improves a player’s psychological agility and strategic thinking. Players quickly understand their direct importance to every team score.
Senong also believes that kids learn from their own mistakes. He obtained a Master’s Coaching Diploma at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands back in 2018.
By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi