Soccer Youth development in the Northern Cape
The Uruguayan national soccer team and their national soccer authority established close friendship ties with the people and authorities of Kimberley and the Northern Cape when they had their base-camp in Kimberly during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Northern Cape Government, the Municipality of Kimberley and the people of the city gave the Uruguayan team a very warm welcome on their arrival and supported them throughout the World Cup. The Uruguayans are still talking with huge appreciation about the hospitality extended to the Uruguayan team. This resulted in the Uruguayan National Football Association (AUF) offering to assist with soccer youth development in the Northern Cape and signing a Declaration of intent in that regard with the Government of the Northern Cape before returning to Uruguay after the World Cup.
The visit of Heads of Mission to the Northern Cape during July 2011 as part of the provincial outreach at the conclusion of the Head of Mission Conference in South Africa provided an opportunity for Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Charge D’Affaires of the SA Embassy in Montevideo, to follow up on the issue of Uruguayan assistance to soccer youth development. Subsequently, the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF), in close consultation with the Embassy, sent their Director for Technical Development, Mr Daniel Banales, on a fact finding mission in September 2011 to evaluate the level of soccer, facilities and opportunities for cooperation in Kimberley and the Northern Cape in general.
Pictured (l-r) Mr Ahmed Jinnah, Senior Manager Stakeholder Liaison; Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Charge d’Affaires; Mr Aaron Themba, Corporate Services Manager of the Embassy; Mr Faisal Aysen, Director General of Sport and Culture of the Northern Cape; and Mr Daniel Banales, Technical Director of AUF, at the AUF Board Room at the National Centenary Soccer Stadium
In the latest development a four member delegation consisting of Mr Faisal Aysen, Director General, and two senior officials of the Department of Sport and Culture of the Northern Cape and Mr Theodoric Khupe, Executive Member of SAFA, visited Uruguay from 4 to 11 March 2012 as guests of AUF. The MEC for Sport unfortunately had to cancel her participation at the last minute due to poor health.
Pictured (l-r) (at the back): Mr Theodoric Khupa, SAFA Executive Member; Mr Daniel Banales, Technical Director of AUF; Mr Patrick Montwedi, Department of Sport and Culture of the Northern Cape, Mr Miguel Sejas, Vice President of AUF; Mr Faisal Aysen, Director General of Department of Sport and Culture of the Northern Cape; Mr Ahmed Jinnah, Senior Manager Stakeholder Liaison; and Dr Sebastian Bauza, President of AUF. In the foreground from left to right: Dr Eduardo Belza, Team Manager of the Uruguayan National Team; and Ambassador Dawie Jacobs, Charge d’Affaires, South African Embassy
Besides fine-tuning the agreement on cooperation, the delegation had an extensive exposure to all aspects of the very impressive all-encompassing soccer structures and facilities of Uruguay, with special emphasis on youth development that will be one of the focus areas in the planned assistance to Uruguay. The President of AUF mentioned that the current success of the Uruguayan National team, that is the American champions and did not lose in 14 consecutive international matches, can be traced back to the implementation of their youth programme about six years before the FIFA World Cup in SA. Proportional to the population Uruguay ranks among the top countries in the world as far as number of players are concerned. They also had a meeting with the Uruguayan Department of Sport and Tourism.
AUF also received a delegation from another African country and when they learned about the assistance to the Northern Cape, they requested AUF for the same assistance.
The President of AUF, Dr Sebastian Bauza and the Manager of the National team Dr Eduardo Belza have been invited by the Government of the Northern Cape to attend an awards ceremony related to the FIFA World Cup 2010 in Kimberley during the last week of March, where the Agreement on Cooperation between AUF and Northern Cape will also be signed.
The “matching” of Uruguay and the Northern Cape for soccer youth development is a very positive development. Uruguay is one of the leading countries in world soccer today and since it has its own challenges within Uruguay with the development of sport in rural areas, they are well placed to guide and assist the Northern Cape. They also have a very successful youth development programme from which the Northern Cape will surely benefit.
This concrete outcome flowing from the positive impact of the World Cup confirms the strength of our “soft power”, namely our people who built this strong relationship with the Uruguayans during the World Cup. The fact that the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) is honouring their commitment to support soccer development in the Northern Cape is not only a reflection of the strong ties established during the World Cup, but is also in line with the longstanding and cordial ties between our two countries, also and especially in the area of sport cooperation, especially in respect of rugby and soccer.
SA EMBASSY MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY