'International exposure key for youngsters'

JOHANNESBURG - The PSL’s Senior Official, Professor Ronnie Schloss, believes more exposure to international football for South Africa’s junior teams will play a massive role in helping to improve the standard of football in the country.

This comes after Schloss observed how South Africa failed to have a team in this year’s Gauteng Future Champions International Tournament final, with both Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns being knocked out at the semi-final of the tournament.

Wits were knocked out of the competition 5-2 by Atletico Madrid, a side which they had played against before in last year’s final, while Sundowns went down to a 3-0 hiding by Nigeria’s NPFL All Stars.

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Professor Ronnie Schloss says the Gauteng Future Champions International Tournament will help development. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagepixMamelodi Sundowns in action against NPFL All Stars of Nigeria. Photo:  Twitter -@FutureChampsU17

In the final, the Spanish side defended their title with a 2-1 win.

Schloss said constant exposure to high level football, such as that brought by both Nigeria and Spain sides to this tournament, would benefit the country’s football in years to come.

“This is a fantastic initiative by the Gauteng department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation,” Schloss said.

“Having our boys play against each other over 10 times in a year won’t do our football any good.

"Our juniors need to be exposed to international football (from an early age).

"If we can do that then, it’ll benefit our football and junior national teams (and league) in years to come.

“These are our future professional players,” Schloss added.

“If you don’t invest in their development, then what’s going to happen to our football in the coming years?

"Our players need to participate in these type of tournaments every once in awhile.

"Doing so, will definitely help grow our (standard) football.”

Schloss, who was a special guest at the weekend’s finals, also expressed his admiration of the quality of football the Spanish side demonstrated throughout the week, adding that South African teams who participated in the event, could learn a thing or two from them.

“The biggest wakeup call from this tournament was seeing Bidvest Wits lose to the same side they played against in last year’s final,” Schloss said.

"They lost by a higher scoreline this time around. For them (Wits), it should be a case of where they say: ‘Wait. Hold on. Where did we go wrong (from last year’s performance)?’

"They were hammered. Look at that short pass inter-play Atletico displayed on the day.

"We can only learn and try to evolve from such experiences.

“My only hope is to see this initiative continuing in the coming years,” Schloss added. “It puts us on the map.

"It gives us an opportunity to showcase the talent we have in this country to the world and hopefully, some of our young players will get scouted by teams abroad.”

The Star

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