SA needs to talk – Kopo

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Veteran youth coach Kwanele Kopo has called for round table discussions to improve the country’s football.

“Are we asking the right questions?” asked Kwanele Kopo, one of the country’s long-serving development coaches.

“There’s a need to talk in South Africa and ask the right questions about the state of our football.”

Kopo, who is SuperSport United’s head of youth, is of the view that South Africa should have technical symposiums, where matters affecting the progress of South African football are addressed.

He feels PSL championship winning coaches Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt, men he worked with at SuperSport, can contribute a lot to local football.

“How many times do we have a technical symposium in South Africa, where we bring all technical people in one room and let’s talk? Never!

“We need to have the likes of Pitso and Gavin, who have eight PSL titles between them, to come and share their knowledge. Pitso and Gavin play different styles of football but they are both successful. We need to engage with them on their methods and how to get the best out of our players.”

Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt.

“Steve Komphela and other coaches can share their knowledge as well. Other coaches and young coaches can learn a lot from them,” Kopo told FARPost.

Kopo, who has also being involved with South Africa junior national teams, is currently assistant coach to national Under-23 coach David Notoane, who recently led the country to 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He says comparisons should be drawn between South Africa and the rest of the world on how they approach football development.

“For Barcelona to have an 18-year-old in the first team, you must ask a question, when he was 17, where was he playing? He was playing for Barca B and they are playing in the league that is equivalent to the National First Division in South Africa. This kid at 15, maybe he was playing under 19. But how many can you find in South Africa?” probed the man with experience of over two decades in youth coaching.

In the PSL, where competition and the need to win silverware are at an all-time high, it’s rare to find youngsters getting promoted to first teams. The manner in which players are developed ought to change, according to Kopo.

“As youth coaches, we are the ones that criticise head coaches the most, saying ‘He is not promoting youth players’. When you are developing something and you don’t know the end product is like you are swimming in the dark. You don’t know where you are going. What are the demands of where you are going? We want to do the process and say he must fit in there somewhere. Our development must talk to the end product – what the coach or the club want.”

For South African football to return to its former glory, Kopo says there’s a need to revive school sports.

“We talk about school sports in South Africa. The reason why our football is failing is because of school sports. If you go to Holland, school sports is done by the KNVB (Royal Dutch Football Association). It’s not done by the schools but by the football federation,” said Kopo.

“When school sports was strong, there were no academies. Every talent was at school. Now there’s suddenly a rise of academies and these academies have taken kids away from school sports. We need to put emphasis on school sports and also fix the challenges in there.”

 By Hosea Ramphekwa

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