McDonald’s Under-14 Schools League ropes in legends

The McDonald’s Under-14 Schools League has for the first time roped in local legends in a bid to help unearth more top-class talent around the country.

Bafana Bafana legends Doctor Khumalo, Phil Masinga, Mark Williams and Teboho Mokoena, as well as renowned coach Khabo Zondo have been engaged as coaches to assist school coaches in discovering talent across South Africa’s nine provinces. Former professional player-turned TV analyst Siphiwe Mkhonza.

Khumalo, Masinga and Williams played a key role as Bafana won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, while Mokoena represented the country at the 2002 World Cup and went on to win 27 international caps. Zondo is a respected, experienced coach in the country who has discovered many players. Mkhonza played at the high level for among other teams Kaizer Chiefs, Golden Arrows and SuperSport United.

The seven legends will be spread across the country to help school coaches in identifying correct talent during the McDonald’s Schools League, which has entered its eighth year.

“It’s important that after seven years, McDonald’s did the right thing to rope in South Africans to help in this key development project,” says Zondo, who will be supervising the legends as head coach. “Previously coaches from the Dutch Football Association were being used and we appreciate what they have done.

“The inclusion of these local legends brings a unique South African element because they know how it is to play at this level, all of them having played school football from a very young age. They can tell the kids about their experience and in turn the kids can aspire to be like them one day.”

Zondo says the involvement of the legends won’t necessarily take away the responsibility of coaching the kids from their teachers.

“The kids are already being trained, but ours is to enhance what’s already there. The reality is school kids are at a very sensitive stage, where every step of development is key. We want to avoid a situation where kids are taught that winning is everything, where they have a winning-at-all-costs mentality, forgetting that development has certain stages. We will be doing things practically, aligning with the programme that exists already. This is also a chance for our legends to plough back into the community. We are mindful of the fact that some schools may not have proper or all facilities, but with McDonald’s having brought in people who know how it is to play on dilapidated grounds, that should not be a problem,” Zondo says.

The McDonald’s Under-14 Schools League has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and it promises to be even bigger with the involvement of South Africa’s own coaches, who will traverse the country to help school coaches in what is known as the “Coach the Coaches” programme.Our legendary coaches will be conducting coaching clinics in the nine provinces, showing the teachers the correct methods of training the young talent to avoid future injuries when they turn professional.

Our legendary coaches will be conducting coaching clinics in the nine provinces, showing the teachers the correct methods of training the young talent to avoid future injuries when they turn professional.

Apart from overseeing his co-coaches, Zondo will be responsible for KwaZulu-Natal, Doctor Khumalo for Gauteng and Limpopo, Mark Williams for Western Cape and Eastern Cape, Phil Masinga for North West and Northern Cape, Siphiwe Mkhonza for Free State and Teboho Mokoena for Mpumalanga.

The McDonald’s Under-14 Schools League is currently under way at the district level and the winners will proceed to provincial finals to be held next month.