The current season in the GladAfrica Championship (National First Division) had enough ingredients for a super movie.
Royal AM pushbacks have been fairly illustrated in typical MamKhize’s style for all to witness, whilst Sekhukhune United continue to prepare for their maiden-season in the DStv Premiership with little interest in the fiasco at play.
These events aside, the National Under-23 Coach David Notoane announced his 2020 Tokyo Olympics-bound cohort to represent Mzansi at the mega-event, shocking all, by leaving out Kaizer Chiefs duo of Reeve Frosler and Njabulo Blom (a subject for discussion in the future).
In principle, the football edition at the games is an Under-23 affair, sprinkled with a possibility to include three over-age players in its menu. Notoane opted to call up Ronwen Williams, and citing fatigue and all sorts of reasons to leave the other over-age potentials.
So this brings about the following questions, how many Under-23 players from the GladAfrica Championship were selected in the Olympics team? Are there National First Division players and teams benefiting from this Under-23 rule.
To begin with, the final list submitted by Notoane to SAFA, only Katlego Mohamme (University of Pretoria) made the cut. Other players participating in the second-tier league, like Athenkosi Dlala were excused in the ultimate playing personnel after featuring in the AFCON qualifications proper and preparatory matches leading to the team announcement.
Given the single representation of (Mohamme / TUKS) confirms that in reality both the GladAfrica Championship and its players don’t benefit from this rule, and begs the question that, what is the real reason for implementing this rule if the all stakeholders (players, clubs and sponsors) are not enjoying its application?
In attempting to find answers to this question, the following points must be highlighted:
• Firstly, the NFD is a professional league and as such teams play for the sole intention – promotion.
• Secondly, talented Under-23 players should automatically be playing in the DStv Premiership.
•Thirdly, why is the PSL insisting on this (Under-23 rule), as their development agenda, when that function rest with the Football Association (SAFA)?
In conclusion, this Under-23 rule is not beneficial to the players, clubs, and the sponsors. But, until the PSL understand their status and role as the professional associate member of SAFA, and not the ruling football body in SA, football development and rules such as the Under-23 will remain as a complete farce.