MEC behind football academy initiative

Lebogang Maile says he is working with Safa to set up football academies.

The project aims to encourage youngsters to get involved in the game. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Sports MEC Lebogang Maile on Tuesday said he is working with the South African Football Association (Safa) to set up football academies.

The project aims to encourage youngsters to get involved in the game and to produce players capable of beating the best in the world.

The decision to set up academies in all nine provinces was taken in February following a Safa National Executive Committee.

Maile highlighted the importance of the academies in developing quality footballers.

"The most important thing is to ensure that there is coordination, so that the provinces do not compete amongst themselves. They must complement the work that we are doing in the country. We compete with the rest of the world as a country and not as separate provinces."

The MEC also confirmed there will be a second edition of the Gauteng Sports Challenge, which sees rugby, soccer and athletics take centre stage.

He adds negotiations are underway to secure international teams to take part in the tournament.

"It will be taking place around June and July. We are on the lookout to secure an international team, but our local professional teams will certainly be participating."