Youth football league 'a stepping stone'

The MultiChoice Diski Challenge includes life skills and leadership development for players.

PSL Chairman Dr Irvin Khoza. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - MultiChoice, in partnership with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has launched a new local youth football league.

The programme, called the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, includes a football competition for the PSL academy clubs, life skills and leadership development for players.

Other benefits include an internship programme to develop broadcasting skills amongst the youth, scholarships for players and production interns as well as a chance for community television channels on DStv to broadcast the Diski Challenge matches.

PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza says the Diski Challenge is an important stepping stone in improving the overall quality of football in South Africa.

Khoza says the programme addresses the need for PSL clubs to develop home-grown talent which will facilitate progression from academy football to the professional ranks.

The U19 tournament will feature two groups comprising of academies from existing PSL clubs and will showcase the country's brightest talent.

Khoza says the exciting three year project will stick to Confederation of African Football (CAF) guidelines.

"Every team must have two development structures, the under-17 and the under-19 as a requirement. For teams to participate in the CAF competitions you must have these structures, so we have done an audit in the PSL to check if all the clubs do comply. As I speak now I can confirm that they do comply."

With all matches set to be broadcast on television and a first prize trip to Germany to play against a top Bundesliga team, Khoza believes there is a lot of incentive to shine at the tournament.

"The teams weren't participating because they had nothing to show for it. Imagine the kids in their communities and their families, there's going to be an incentive for them, either in the stadiums or watching TV."

The winning team will receive a trophy and a trip to Holland for a four-day training camp with the Royal Netherlands Football Association and their top youth coaches, as well as a match against a top Dutch team.

The tournament starts in September and runs through to March 2015.