SA Football Association (Safa) and Transnet are handing over the School of Excellence – a soccer academy – to the Gauteng Department of Education (GED) as they struggle to attract sponsors for the upkeep of the famous private boarding facility. The Citizen has seen documents detailing plans of the GED which include turning the 120 boys soccer academy into an ordinary High School, where there will be more than 800 boys and girls attending classes. Rich history of the soccer academy down the drain If this model is implemented, the academy, respected for producing soccer aces such as Steven Pienaar,…
SA Football Association (Safa) and Transnet are handing over the School of Excellence – a soccer academy – to the Gauteng Department of Education (GED) as they struggle to attract sponsors for the upkeep of the famous private boarding facility.
The Citizen has seen documents detailing plans of the GED which include turning the 120 boys soccer academy into an ordinary High School, where there will be more than 800 boys and girls attending classes.
Rich history of the soccer academy down the drain
If this model is implemented, the academy, respected for producing soccer aces such as Steven Pienaar, Bernard Parker, Dillon Sheppard and others, will die as the education department plans to absorb it into the public schooling system where sport will become an extra-curriculum program instead of a priority.
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GED confirmed to The Citizen on Wednesday that the academy’s six soccer coaches will not be needed when the department takes over. It will only absorb the nine teachers and the principal.
Angry parents reject the Gauteng department’s takeover
The department is set to take over in April this year. GED spokesperson Steve Motala said as soon as the independent school is registered as a public school, it will be aligned to education provisions of public schools.
Parents and staff at the school are up in arms, with plans to block the handing over of the school to the education department saying it “doesn’t have the capacity to run the school”.
There are also fears that the department will close down the school.
This week, parents handed a petition to the management of Transnet objecting to GED taking over the school.
In the petition, the parents stated: “Parents a re generally against the GED takeover of the school and could have, if they had been consulted, helped to get a proper sponsor that will secure the vision and mission of the School of Excellence. The GED seems not to have the capacity to run the school properly. If possible, let the process start all over and there be proper consultation of all stakeholders.”
Transnet’s response to the petition will be added once received.
An average high school has more than 500 pupils
In line with the National Schools Act’s norms and standards, schools with less than 150 pupils are considered non-viable and are being closed by the government.
Under the public schooling system, a school the size of the School of Excellence is considered a non-viable entity and could be closed down in line with the Basic Education Department’s rationalisation, realignment and merger programme’s norms and standards.
Across the country, an average high school has no less than 504 pupils.
Motale said: “Since the school will be converted from being an independent school, operations will be guided by laws and policies for the Public Schooling System. This entails, among other factors, the employment of the existing staff and how extra-curricular will be managed. However, it must be noted that coaches are not educators and cannot be considered as there is no provisioning to cover their employment.”
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He added that the admission of pupils will be done in line with the amendments to regulations relating to the admission of pupils to Public Schools.
Accordingly, the changes will take effect upon registration as a public school and all affected stakeholders have on numerous occasions been informed of the transition, said Motale.
The Safa/Transnet School of Excellence soccer academy was established in 1994 to scout youngsters doing Grade 8 to 12 to study and train at the school so they can be turned into professional soccer players.
Over the years it produced a string of talented soccer players, who played locally and abroad.
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Academy already handed over to Gauteng Education
Transnet has been the sole sponsor since 1995 paying for the salaries of teachers coaches, food, security, lights and for the general upkeep of the academy.
After having contributed more than R200 million over the past 25 years, Transnet told The Citizen it was ending the sponsorship deal due to lack of finances.
The parastatal confirmed it had handed over the academy to the provincial education authority.
“On 14 December 2022 Transnet officially informed Safa and the other trustees of its decision to exit the school. The Gauteng Department of Education will be taking over the operations of the school,” said Transnet in a response to The Citizen.
Soccer journalist and analyst Monwabisi Jimlongo said: “It is a shame that an institution that churned out some of the best football products like Steven Pienaar, Dillon Sheppard, Brett Evans and Gareth Ncaca stopped operations because of inept administrators.”
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Jimlongo added: “South African football administrators should hang their heads in shame for dropping the ball. One just wonders where would we be football-wise had the centre not been left to go to waste. Funds permitting, something needs to be done, fast, in order to return the centre to its former glory.”
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