JOHANNESBURG - Young South African soccer players, coaches, spectators and television viewers will all benefit immensely from an agreement between television giant SuperSport, Premier League club SuperSport United and Feyenoord. As a result of the deal, a football academy will be set up, South African youngsters will be sent to Rotterdam for coaching and testing and matches of Feyenoord will be broadcasted in more than 40 countries by South-African based SuperSport.

The agreement, signed in Johannesburg on 9 November 2001, also makes provision for a coach, appointed by the Dutch club, to set up a SuperSport Feyenoord Youth Academy for under 13, under 15, under 17 and under 19 teams. The coach will be sent to South Africa for an initial period of one year. Every year a promising SA coach will be chosen to be trained in Rotterdam as part of the reciprocal deal that will run to the end of June 2004. Jorien van den Herik, president of Feyenoord Rotterdam, says his club, based on the experience with their Feyenoord Academy in Ghana, strongly believes in developing football skills of young players, in combination with an educational school programme. ‘The most promising talents will participate, but only the very best will represent their country abroad. Those who will stay in South Africa will not only represent the best of football skills in the nation, but also have an education that may be used after ending their football career. I have seen these programmes work in other parts of the world and have no doubt that it will work in South Africa as well.’ Supersport United's executive manager, Stan Matthews, is delighted with the agreement, seeing it as "a wonderful opportunity for South African players to make their mark on the international stage. ‘Feyenoord has international expertise of the highest level and the cooperation will have a significant impact on our coaching standards being elevated. We can now take the flair and skill that South African players have to offer and develop our players holistically with this platform to Europe and International stardom.’ One of the several dreams-come-true clauses in the contract stipulates that Feyenoord's technical director will be entitled to select from the Academy a maximum of six players under the age of 20 to be trained and tested in the Netherlands for a period to be agreed upon. United's under 19 squad, consisting of 22 members, may go to Rotterdam every year to participate in Feyenoord's international youth tournament, usually held in July. This will depend on whether the host club rates the group as up to standard. SuperSport and Feyenoord will set up a nationwide scouting network to find and sign the best talent in the country. The parties plan to arrange an annual tournament in South Africa in which Feyenoord, SuperSport United and two other clubs will participate. The tournament is likely to be held in January or July. A youth challenge tournament in which the under 15 Feyenoord Ghana team will play, is to be held in South Africa in April each year. One of Feyenoord's reasons for entering into the deal is to acquire talented youngsters to play for the club. Another aim is to increase awareness of its brand in Africa. As part of the deal SuperSport, who broadcasts sport to more than 1.2 million households in over 40 countries and islands, will televise some of Feyenoord's first-team matches all over Africa. SuperSport's motivation for establishing cooperation with Feyenoord is to benefit from the expertise in the club, to provide opportunities for SuperSport United's players and coaches to train abroad and to develop the club into one of the best in South Africa. To bolster the club, Feyenoord may also fill vacant positions in the United lineup.
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