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PREVIEWS/REPORTS
Birds youth development on track
The Moroka Swallows Youth Development Program has taken a further significant step forward this year. Read on for more information with regards to their youth structures.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
                        
As previously discussed, the Swallows Youth Development Program has taken a further significant step forward this year.

Last season was our first year in which we joined up with Germiston Football Club to take the best of their and Swallows youth and blend them together in the interest of these youngsters as well as Swallows.

The exercise proved highly successful with both the U13 and U15 teams in particular, achieving tremendous success. The U13 team won the Easter Gauteng League comfortably as well as the Cup.

The U15 team finished second in the league (failed only from winning by difference) The U17 team finished mid-table.

The U19 team under the guidance of former Swallows great "Ace" Mnini, still trained in Soweto.

All the teams competed as fully branded Moroka Swallows teams, In Reebok kit and were fully branded with the logo of our major sponsor, TOTAL.

This year (the 2004 junior season), the Youth Development Program has been further professionalised.

All teams including the U19's will train at Germiston Sport Club and play their home matches there. Whilst it is not always entirely possible, efforts are being made to try and synchronise home and way fixtures in order that as many as possible "full" Moroka Swallows juniors home days can be created and around which events can be organised.

Moroka Swallows reserve team has been scrapped. The U19 team as well as some first team players who need match practice will now fulfill reserve team functions. This will create the opportunity to fast-track promising youngster into the first team.
An extensive academy contract has been drawn up by Michael Murphy, all youngsters who wish to play for Moroka Swallows, shall be required to sign same in conjunction with their parents or guardians.

All players, staff, coaching staff and management have to sign the code of conduct (Copy included).

Talks with a technical sponsor are virtually finished and included in the deal is a guarantee of a wider range of clothing and kit for youth teams than previously. As a minimum, all players will receive boots, playing kit, travelling tracksuits, T-shirts and a bag.

In terms of coaching, the Swallows Head Coach Gavin Hunt, has already met with various coaches and will do so on a ongoing basis. He went Lilleshall in the UK last year to obtain his International Coaching Licence and in May/June he will be going again to obtain his UEFA "A" licence.

It is obviously vital that this information and expertise is filtered down to all the teams. Junior team coaches will have the opportunity to attend SAFA coaching courses.

Besides the normal expenses of salaries, affiliation fees, kit and fees for match officials, etc, quite substantial additional expenses come with the roll out of this program this year.

a) Two microbuses have to be purchased to transport registered players, in particular those housed by ourselves. Besides the purchase price, running costs and maintenance will also be substantial.

b) 20 players are being housed and cared for by Moroka Swallows. Extensive trials were held in order that over and above the good players we already had in our academy, the best further talent could be identified.

The rationale used was as follows:

-  Approximately eighteen players would be accepted and registered for each age group.

-  Preference would be given to boys from Gauteng. If two players were considered equal in
   quality, the player from Gauteng would be chosen.
  
-  Only if a committee consisting of Gavin Hunt, Vader Mophosho, Paul Habib and the coach of the relevant age group agree that a player outside of Gauteng was markedly superior, would such a player be selected.  
  
-  Such a player would be housed and schooled by Swallows.

It was felt that this policy would best suit the long need of Swallows.

1)  besides the above Swallows have been putting a youngster, Lucky Motaung through school and at the FC Copenhagen school of excellence last year. This year he is now back and still being housed and schooled by Swallows. He is playing with the under 19 team and training sometimes with the first team. Hopefully at the end of this year he will be drafted into the first team.


2) The health and nutrition of these youngsters obviously needs to be improved.

Our first team fitness trainer is currently establishing guidelines for optimal physical training specific to each of the age groups.

Most important is nutrition. There are obviously limits to what the club can realistically do. We are currently in discussions with a health food company for a part sponsorship of providing a meal/health schedule to all our junior players after training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

It is our aim to get additional sponsorship for food from sponsors such as Woolworths, Pick 'n Pay and The Spur.

The logistics of such an exercise are obviously quite daunting, but substantial infrastructure of Germiston Sports Club has been made available to us in addition, the support of the voting committee members of Germiston Sports Club has been quite outstanding and we are positive that we will achieve our objective.


STRUCTURE

Development Head - Paul Habib
Assisted by - Vader Mophosho

Under 19 coach - Ace Mnini, John Kotelo
Under 17 coach - Kabelo Kiau
Manageress - Xoliswa Mavuso
Assistant coach - Thabo Molefe

Under 15 coach - Reginald Ketse
Under 13 coach - Paul Habib
Manageress - Terry Dixon

Transport - Ben Zwane

The issue of how the kit will be handled is still to be finalised. Swallows have purchased two industrial strength washing machines some time ago which have been installed at Germiston and are used for the first team kit and the current first team kit manager with an assistant could probably handle the youth kit as well.

In conclusion, rapid strides have been made in respect of our Youth Development.

Teams train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 16H30 and I would like to invite you to come along and observe. I think you will be amazed at was has been achieved.

I feel we should arrange and open day function for players, parents, staff, the media and our sponsors. This would be an excellent opportunity for Total and I feel Total should use our youth much more this season.

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