Player Perspective: Football learning from Athletics

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Shu-Aib Walters Cape Town City 23022017
Carling Black Label Cup, what South African football can learn from athletics are the hot topics for Shuaib Walters this week


So we are fast approaching the Carling Black Label Champion Cup match taking place this weekend between Kaizer chiefs and Orlando pirates, one of the most anticipated cup matches between the two teams. A very exciting concept for the fans is that they get to pick their team, however this means that we can’t really read the game itself.

It’s definitely going to be an interesting game all the same – what is also very comforting is that Metro Police is being proactive in increasing the amount of metro officers on the roads close to and around the FNB stadium this weekend to discourage supporters from drinking at the game and then driving.  

In other very exciting news our IPC Athletes team has finished the 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships on a very high note, with two gold medals and a silver medal in Sunday’s last day of competition. Well done to each and every athlete that represented our country!!! 

Also in much talked about athletic news, new comer “on the record making block”, high jumper Breyton Poole set an under-18 leading 2.24m to win gold on the penultimate day of the IAAF U18 world athletics championships on Saturday, congratulations Breyton to you and also to Wade Van Niekerk and Castor Semenya, on their outstanding wins.

I am in total awe as to how much sweat and hard work these athletes put into the months and months of preparations to represent our country - we sometimes tend to forget that what needs to be accomplished and reached is solely based on what happens behind the scenes – the sacrifices made.

The determination and drive that these athletes have is nothing short of astounding.

I’ve also done some research on what makes these athletes so extraordinary. Is it the early development stages, the facilities, their trainers or are they just physically superior in the sport?

After much reading about the journey to success for the world’s top athletes, ours included, I’ve concluded that with each individual it is something different- whether it be state of the art facilities, training internationally, development or determination. The greatest ones, irrespective of sport, are not only motivated to be better than their competition but to surpass their own best performances time and time again.

We know that our mindset towards the term development needs to evolve in South Africa and in many ways, it is beginning to happen. We are understanding that a 20 year is no longer a ‘development’ level player. At 20 years old, it is too late to be considered as such.  

I do feel though that early development through European training for our soccer players will build them into much better players as having to compete at that level will push players to improve where required.

For instance, if Safa selected two or three great teenagers between the ages of 14-18 and covered their stay in Europe, these players would be exposed to another level of talent and another way of coaching.

Our football would benefit greatly from such an initiative instead of paying for great facilities but not enough top level youth coaches to carry the players through and even that issue was resolved, the best players need to be learning and training from the best.

And to end off this week’s column- just and update on our pre-season training. Our training intensity has increased over the weeks and we have also played quite a few friendly matches, which is a good way to assess our team’s match readiness or lack thereof. I am pleased to say that in my view our team is taking shape very well and all I can say is- last season we left our mark, this season we grabbing it with both hands (excuse the dry goalkeeper pun)…..Till next week!


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