Feyenoord and Free State International Football Programme set for expansion

The Free State International Football Programme (FSIFP), a partnership between the Free State Province, Feyenoord Academy and SimSport International is stepping up a level

The partnership between the Free State Province, Feyenoord Academy and SimSport International is set on taking their relationship further by including the development of coaches in the region to their already established player development programme. 

The initiative that was started in partnership with Bolton Wanderers about six years ago by Simsport International, is blossoming with some exciting talent now coming to fore, including the likes of Tyrone Mondi who was incuded in the U20 SA squad to face Lesotho.

Dutch giants Feyenoord have since replaced Bolton Wanderers as partners, which according to Simsport’s Rasthoem Simons made sense because of the Dutch side’s development “track record” and South African connection.

“When they (Bolton) got relegated the partnership was not as big commercially and on the football side, it did not give the players a realistic opportunity to make it to top leagues,” Simons explained to Goal.

“We ended up finding Feyenoord, who have a very good track record in developing players, and a good track record in discovering South African players like Kermit (Erasmus) and Kamohelo (Mokotjo).”

After being involved with the project over the past three years since the relationship started, Gido Vader, Head of International Relations at Feyenoord is happy with the results.

“I take nothing away from coaches in South Africa and what they are doing. The project is about a couple of things, it’s talent development, it’s about going opportunities, it’s about giving a positive experience, a chance for kids to work with experienced and quality coaches,” Vader added.

“Our coaches are very experienced and qualified; they start working at a younger age. Players in Holland, when they are 15, they have at least nine years of solid training; and in South Africa at 15 it is only really starts.

“We see a lot of raw talent here. Physically, [they are] probably more talented than Dutch boys are, but on the tactical and understanding side of things, that’s where we really can add value.”

The Feyenoord administrator is enthusiastic about developing the project from training just young people, and will now look to enhance their work with coaches.

“We expose coaches to how we do things at Feyenoord. For instance, we arranged a friendly against his football school of one of the coaches we have been working with, and you could already see that he has implemented some of the things into his own football school. So we are looking to expanding on the coaching development side.

“We can always work with 30 kids, but if you work with 30 coaches, you end up working with 100s of kids because that knowledge will spread that much.”

This is only phase one of the initiative and with the foundation already in place for multi-level project collaboration between the partners, football fans and the people of the Free State province can prepare themselves for more opportunities and exciting initiatives. 


This interview was done by Diski Nites host Sizwe "Umjaka"Mbebe on behalf of Goal. DiskiNites is a monthly interactive live show. Find out more on http://diskinites.com/