JOHANNESBURG - A few of my friends were pretty envious of my having been at the thrilling Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke04 at the weekend.
Their envy stemmed from the fact that I witnessed an eight-goal thriller, while on the same day five matches in the Absa Premiership dished out a paltry 10 goals. Such is the gap between our league and that of Germany.
Even the fixture between bottom-dwellers FC Cologne and relegation zone outfit Hertha Berlin entertained and delivered two goals.
But how is it that their matches can produce so much goals and entertainment? After all, aren’t the Germans renowned for their boring, disciplined, strict outlook and approach to just about everything? That might be the case, but when it comes to their football, Germany don’t cut corners.
For one, all of the clubs in the Bundesliga (1 and 2) have academies; it's a pre-requisite to play in the country’s top leagues. And they are proper academies run by qualified coaches and housed at structures conducive to nurturing promising talent in the best way possible.
“The clubs have to meet a catalogue of requirements for their academies to be approved and these are checked regularly,” said Henning Brinkmann of Bundesliga International.
A visit to the Dortmund Academy confirmed as much, with the facility of such top class status it is no wonder it produces top talent.
There are no less than 10 proper fields, two of them artificial pitches, so at any given time all the club’s teams from the under-7s through to the senior side can have a training session.
The impact of having a boy of say 12 brushing shoulders with Mario Goetze on a daily basis cannot be underestimated. Seeing the senior stars at training and sometimes sharing the canteen or the gym with them is bound to infuse in the youngster a sense of belief and a desire to reach for the stars.
Because they have such proper youth structures, German clubs always churn out new talent, most of which go on to represent the national team.
As it is, 21 of the 2014 World Cup winners were groomed at Bundesliga youth academies.
On Sunday, for example, bottom-placed Cologne gave 16-year-old Yann Aurel Bisseck his professional debut in a 2-0 loss to Hertha Berlin because most of their regulars were out injured.
From an early age, players in Germany are accustomed to playing competitive football against the same clubs that will be their adversaries when they become professionals.
That is unlike here where academies are usually private institutions with those in charge largely out to make a quick buck from the sale of young talent to the elite league clubs.
Though talented, the fact that these players only ever really get exposed to proper competition at professional level essentially means their development is not complete.
The result is what we are currently experiencing, a pathetic failure to do the basics right at the highest level, with scoring perhaps the greatest weakness of our game.
Until South African football does the basics right, until our clubs realise they have to fix the problems themselves by investing in proper development of players, we will continue to look up to the likes of the Bundesliga and be in awe.
Mamabolo was in Germany courtesy of StarSat