Platinum Stars a shining example
There is no disputing that Platinum Stars have thus far enjoyed a dream season. As we reach the business end, Dikwena are still in the running for two trophies, which is no mean feat.
What I have observed is that the Crocodiles from the North West province are a side that play for one another. There are no big stars or egos and each player has his role clearly defined. For me, they have developed into a well-balanced, well-oiled unit.
Head coach Cavin Johnson deserves much credit. I have known Cavin for many years now – he first worked with me at the Transnet/Safa School of Excellence, which I established in 1994.
Thereafter, when I headed to Sundowns, I invited Cavin to join me at Chloorkop to head up youth development. It’s a shame Sundowns didn’t realise the gem they had in him. However, their loss is Platinum Stars’ gain.
As a person he is a soft guy but when he has something to say he is not shy to voice his opinion. He is not the type of coach who will scream and shout at his players but that doesn’t mean he’s not just as passionate.
He has built Platinum Stars into a formidable outfit on the back of a simple yet effective game plan.
While one of his main principles is to play beautiful football and a neat passing game, he has a great understanding of his players’ skills and therefore always plays to their strengths.
He has created a harmonious working environment and, by empowering the players, they in turn want to play for the coach, which I feel is more than half the battle won.
I believe Platinum Stars’ successful blueprint is one other teams in the league can follow. It just shows what can be achieved when there are sound structures in place and good organisation behind the scenes.
Furthermore, their success story underlines that it’s crucial for owners to back their technical staff and give them at least three years to build a sustainable project.
It also proves that you don’t have to boast the biggest budget in South African football like Sundowns – who Stars knocked out of the Nedbank Cup – to succeed.
It’s amazing what can be achieved when football people are making decisions without bias or hidden agendas.
In my opinion, Chippa United are the antithesis of this model and have learned the hard way in their maiden top-flight campaign. Aside from their owner hiring and firing coaches at will, at this time, they lack the infrastructure required to compete at the top-tier of South African football.
I believe that their rise through the ranks was too rapid and has done them more harm than good. On-field and off, they underlined they simply weren’t ready to be compete in the PSL this season.
Prior to the season, Platinum Stars may have been regarded by many as minnows but I believe their success this season comes as no great surprise. We must not forget that they boast the best training facilities in the country. England were based in Rustenburg during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
While Stars are only seven points behind Chiefs on the PSL log with a game in hand, realistically I think their best shot at silverware this season is in the Nedbank Cup. Aside from the handsome prize money, victory in the Cup equals Caf Confederations Cup qualification, which is another incentive.
However, if Platinum Stars are to challenge consistently for the league title, as their coach believes they can, they simply cannot become a selling club. To be honest, it is a concern that one of their star players, Thuso Phala, has already agreed to join SuperSport United from next season.
While you can argue that modern professionals lack the loyalty players possessed in my era, I think it’s the duty of Safa, the PSL and the respective clubs to reinstall age-group sides.
For example, in my playing days at Durban City we had under-10, under-12 and under-14 sides. This created brand loyalty and a desire to represent the senior side.
There is no doubt that South African football needs to plough more resources into youth development. Yes, age-group cheating may still exist but we have to get past this issue at some point.
I believe that it’s crucial we create a database of promising young players for the betterment of our game.