For any youth player, reaching the U-17 squad at a big club is a major achievement. However, they still have a long way to go to reach the first team, and even very talented players can be left by the wayside on that arduous journey. In this interview for the FIFA Training Centre, David Notoane, Head of Transition at the Mamelodi Sundowns, explains how he supports the club’s best youngsters as they prepare for the professional ranks.
Part 1: The path to Senior Football
Notoane begins by outlining the nature of his role and describing the Sundowns’ pathway from the U-17 side to the first team. As he explains, the U-21 side plays a particular important role in preparing the club’s best young talent, and its training methodology aims to ease the transition to senior football by creating an environment that is as close to that of the first team as possible while still giving coaches the flexibility they need to develop individual players.
Part 2: Supporting young players in their transition
The second part of the interview focuses on how Notoane mediates between players and the coaching staff. He discusses some of the biggest challenges players typically face when making the step up to the Sundowns’ senior ranks (which often include the need to balance professional football with finishing school) and reveals how he provides one-to-one support to young players when the going gets tough. To conclude the interview, he considers the performance of the academy as a whole, and how the Sundowns’ youth system might develop in seasons to come.