SAFA lauds Castle Lager Football Academy

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The South African Football Association (SAFA) has acknowledged the critical role the Castle Lager Academy is playing in finding and developing the future stars of our national football teams. Technical Director, Fran Hilton-Smith expressed SAFA’s gratitude and praised Castle Lager for the initiative during an Academy training session and match against NFD side, Highlands Park last week.
“This is an incredible project to identify talent, which is one of the reason why I am here to look at the available talent with a view to feed some of these players into our Under 20 national team and Under 23 Olympic squad,” said Hilton-Smith. “It is through projects like this that talented players are identified all over the country and brought into a camp like this where they spend a couple of days playing top class football, guided by some of the top coaches in the country. It’s an incredible effort by Castle Lager and the players we are seeing are the future of South African Football,” continued Hilton-Smith.
With Bafana Bafana being knocked out of the African Cup of Nations, the attention will now be on the Under 23 national team as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympic qualifiers.
Hilton-Smith says that Castle Lager has made it easier for the national team coaches to scout for players to be part of the Olympics squad.
The Castle Lager Football Academy campaign was started in 2012 in partnership with SAFA and the SABC.
The main objective of the campaign is to discover young talented players who could potentially be signed by Premier Soccer League and the National First Division (PSL and NFD) teams and one day might represent South Africa in the Senior Men’s team (Bafana Bafana).
The nationwide search, which is part of the scouting process of the initiative, offers players from the 30 000 strong SAB League, which is the largest SAFA backed senior football development programme and Varsity football, the opportunity to perform in front of coaches and scouts from the PSL and NFD teams.
The campaign has yielded success, with several players from the past two seasons being offered contracts by PSL and NFD teams.
Such great stories include the signing of Siphiwe Mtsweni from Secunda by Kaizer Chiefs at the beginning of the 2013/14 PSL season, Chase Parsons and Deolin Mekoa respectively by SuperSport United and Maritzburg United for the 2014/15 season, while Rafiq de Goede was signed by Vasco da Gama from the NFD.
The Castle Lager Football Academy camp will continue till the 2nd of February 2015. Thus far the selected 23 player squad has played friendly matches with NFD side, Highlands Park, PSL sides, Mamelodi Sundowns and AmaTuks, beating Highlands Park 5 – 2, AmaTuks 1 – 0 and suffering a 2 – 1 loss to Sundowns. They are due to play Gavin Hunt’s Bidvestwits on Thursday, 29 January, and take on Durban based team AmaZulu in their last match on Saturday, 31 January.

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