The KZN Academy and the South African Football Association held a media briefing on Friday, on which it was revealed that this year’s edition of the Durban under 19 Football tournament has been cancelled after the KwaZulu Natal government pulled out it’s funding at the last minute.
Carlos Catalino, KZN academy CEO and chief organiser, said the tournament was cancelled because the department of Sport said the tournament will only be sponsored if it adds six academies from KZN teams who play in the PSL and the National First Division.
“The department of sports wanted us to add six academies of KZN teams playing in the top two tiers but arrangements couldn’t be completed since the promised sponsorship money was reduced from last year. We asked for more but they couldn’t grant us.
We held meetings that included SAFA president Dr. Danny Jordaan, MEC Sihle Zikalala and we tried to talk with the Minister of Sports. But after an agreement with Dr. Jordaan, we couldn’t reach the MEC and those in charge said their hands were tied.”
Siyabonga Ntshingila from the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, said that it’s the department’s mandate to protect the interests of KZN teams.
“As KZN department of sports we have a duty to the development of football in KZN, not to sponsor overseas teams that are owned by multi-million rand owners. We’ve been happy to sponsor the Durban youth cup since it’s inception, but we thought it was about time KZN teams gets a slice of the pie.”
KZN academy captain, Philani Khumalo, also expressed the team’s disappointment at the cancellation of the tournament. He said the Durban U19 international tournament is exactly what the country’s football development needs and the SAFA team was ready for it.
“Our teams were in preparation for the tournament. This is the only way that we can really step up to the plate internationally and start doing better in international competitions is by playing international tournaments and pitting ourselves against the best youngsters in the world.”
Ayanda Nyuswa, sports analyst for Radio DUT, said that it happened during apartheid that the government dictated who to play with or against in order to grant you sponsorship.
“Somebody is going to miss out here simply because of the pulling of funds from this tournament. It is a huge disappointment. I see this going back to the past, are we going back to the apartheid days when we have government interfering in sport, where they will tell you who to play before you get funding? For me this seems to be the case. It is just so unfortunate because this is a SAFA project for the benefit of our country, for the poor footballers that come from rural areas.”
In four years, the KZN academy has produced more players who now play professionally in the PSL, Portugal, Germany and both senior and junior national teams.