Steven Pienaar. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREW YATES
Steven Pienaar. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREW YATES

Former Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar has lamented the shocking neglect and deteriorating state of the once thriving Safa-Transnet Football School of Excellence.

Regarded as one of the best products of the school, the former Ajax Amsterdam‚ Everton‚ Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder said the crumbling facility is a far cry from the glory days in the 1990s when he honed his skills there before moving to Ajax Cape Town and Europe.

“When I was there it was totally different‚” he said from his base in the Netherlands, where he is doing a coaching internship at Ajax Amsterdam. “Transnet pumped a lot of money into the school because they believed in the project and they were fully behind it.”

The school produced many top footballers, including Daine Klate‚ Dillon Sheppard‚ Shaun Potgieter‚ Gabriel Mofokeng‚ Lucky Maselesele and Andile Cele.

“Over the last couple of years the school has been going a bit downward, with not enough players coming through for different reasons.

“I don’t know if it’s financial with sponsors not putting enough money in or what‚” said Pienaar‚ who spent more than a decade playing for some of the best teams in Europe.

After leaving Ajax Cape Town in 2001‚ Pienaar’s career took him to the Netherlands, where he joined Ajax Amsterdam. He also played for Borussia Dortmund in Germany‚ and Everton‚ Spurs and Sunderland in England. He returned to SA at the twilight of his career and had a short stint with Bidvest Wits before retiring.

Pienaar said the government should step in and revive the school as it was once a conveyor belt of talent for clubs and various national teams.

“It is a school that government has to get involved in because it has produced a lot of talented players‚” he said.

Most of the players from the school turned professional and some of them played for Bafana Bafana, he said.

“At some stage when I was playing for the SA Under-19 national team‚ we had about eight players from the school. It clearly shows that development is very important for the future of the national team.

“We don’t have a lot of development schools like that and it is just sad the way it is going now with the school.”

Pienaar added that talented young players should move to leagues in Belgium and Scandinavia to improve themselves in front of scouts from top teams in Europe.

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